The quantity close to the highest of Act 2 in director Sammi Cannold’s gorgeously reinvigorated “Evita” is assured to impress goose bumps. Because Cannold and designers Jason Sherwood (units), Bradley King (lights), Alejo Vietti (costumes) and Connor Wang (sound) devise a revelatory setting for certainly one of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s most luxurious songs. Add the luscious voice and presence of Pimentel, and the elements of an unforgettable musical-theater second are stirred.
The manufacturing, minted at American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., and transplanted now to Shakespeare Theatre Company’s flagship house, makes a persuasive case for “Evita” as essentially the most artistically vibrant musical within the Lloyd Webber canon. (Admittedly the competitors is lower than fierce.) Cannold seems to be shrewdly into the story of Argentina’s tornadic first girl to dismantle among the mythology. She finds neither monster nor martyr, however slightly a lady armored by misfortune who manages to search out her fortune.
This Eva is the pragmatic product of privation. Her vulnerability is taken benefit of by rapacious males and her humility extinguished by energy. She is a ravenous urchin schooled in cruelty, her wildest goals realized by way of guts, guile, grit and a present for survival. A measure of the manufacturing’s canniness is the suggestion, more emphatically than in prior cases, of an actual marriage between Eva and President Juan Perón. He is portrayed with palpable ardour by Caesar Samayoa, to whom Pimentel’s mortally sick Eva sings a wrenching “You Must Love Me,” the ballad the songwriters added for Madonna within the unlucky 1996 film model.
With the fashionable contributions of choreographers Emily Maltby and Valeria Solomonoff, the present strikes like a dream, because the mid-century denizens of Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital — you understand, “Stand back, Buenos Aires!” — dance to Eva’s irresistible tune. The tango, the nation’s sensual signature, recurs because the story of Eva’s rise, from boy toy to political dynamo, unfolds. These two nationwide symbols, one an expression of want in motion, the opposite the female embodiment of a individuals’s will, imbue this “Evita” with its pressing aspirational momentum. The story, like its topic, has unstoppable power.
“Evita” has solely been revived as soon as on Broadway since Harold Prince’s Tony-winning 1979 manufacturing, which launched into the stratosphere a younger lead actress named Patti LuPone and, as a narrating Che Guevara, Mandy Patinkin. Prince took a Brechtian method to the fabric that benefited immeasurably from the fundamental sense of want LuPone projected.
But Cannold provides us a special perspective, strengthened within the extremely fictionalized character of Che, performed by the dashing Omar Lopez-Cepero; the director introduces a youthful model of the Argentine-born revolutionary, a supposed eyewitness to the more and more corrupt Peronist phenomenon. The conceit permits the director to combine the sung-through musical’s political themes more robustly into the glamorous melodrama of Eva’s life and early dying, at 33, from most cancers.
A sure reductive high quality is inevitable within the theatrical framing of a political biography; one other autocratic style plate of the twentieth century, Imelda Marcos, is middle stage within the present Broadway musical “Here Lies Love,” a present that’s even thinner in psychological element than “Evita.” Contemporary audiences, although, appear enthralled by the vicissitudes of girls, particularly scheming ones, on the proper hand of authority. (See additionally: “Six.”) So possibly the time is ripe for “Evita” to get one other crack at Broadway.
The manufacturing in Harman Hall has the arresting bona fides for such a gambit. Under a quintet of movable arches, outlined in neon, the ensemble strikes adoring poses — one side “Evita” does stint on is delving into why the populace embraced Eva so ardently. You get solely a fleeting thought of the turbulent circumstances that fostered the Eva worship, though the Act 1 finale, “A New Argentina,” exuberantly bottles the desperation of the proletariat to spend money on a savior. And within the wit of “The Art of the Possible,” the choreographers reveal the army elite’s stranglehold on energy, by way of a recreation of musical chairs.
Competing with Eva’s “little touch of star quality,” although, the generals are faceless also-rans. Costume designer Vietti attracts a chromatic distinction between Eva and everybody else (even the pope!): Emulating designers’ silhouettes of the previous, he attire Pimentel in a succession of outfits in angelic white, whereas the abnormal people, the troopers, the overseas luminaries all put on shades of grey. If garments are imagined to make the person, in “Evita,” they sanctify the lady. That the present begins with the disembodied ballgown suspended in midair compels us to contemplate the query: What empty values did Eva enshrine?
Through Pimentel, Cannold communicates the thematic essence of her manufacturing. The actress takes us empathetically, step-by-step, from innocence to ruthlessness. The tirelessness of Eva’s marketing campaign for love and riches appears to destroy her; the breakdown of her physique appears like an inevitable results of her overarching ambition. And in a city the place craven grasps for energy are a part of the day by day routine, Eva and her musical are proper at residence.
Evita, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Tim Rice. Directed by Sammi Cannold. Choreography, Emily Maltby and Valeria Solomonoff; set, Jason Sherwood; costumes, Alejo Vietti; lighting, Bradley King; sound, Connor Wang; orchestrations, David Cullen and Lloyd Webber; music path, Mona Seyed-Bolorforosh. With Gabriel Burrafato, Naomi Serrano. About 2 hours quarter-hour. Through Oct. 15 at Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW. shakespearetheatre.org.