The classic musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Evita comes to life again with the latest production at St. Mark’s Players. The revival comes at a perfect time, as the production delves into the flawed human character of Evita Duarte Perón, showing both the great qualities and the fallible human qualities that made her such a relevant historical figure. It is both an entertaining and significant musical.
Directed by Sam Stenecker, Evita is by now a classic, telling the story of Argentina’s First Lady during the tumultuous political time of the Perón military dictatorship. This production in particular is dynamic and showcases the tough political conditions in Argentina at the time, while also delivering a portrait of this complex and charismatic woman that for some is reviled by some but revered like a saint by others. There is no doubt that this one of the most salient historical figures of Argentina, and this musical does the trick of presenting both the intricacies of the political landscape of military rule, and the one woman who was at the center of it all.
The lyrics by Tim Rice stand out as the story is told through a historical lens and also using the image of Che Guevara to showcase the opposition that Eva once faced. The passionate cast rose to the occasion last night. While there were a few glitches with sound, song, dance and a lot of heart made up for the technical mishap.
Actress Nina-Sophia Pacheco portrayed Eva Perón with seamless costume changes throughout, a passionate performance that was at once provocative, sexy, and powerful. Her renditions of “I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You” with John Cattaneo (Juan Perón), “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” and “Rainbow High” were highlights.
Another fantastic performance was delivered by Jordan King as a Young Ernesto “Che” Guevara. His vocal talents shone in “Oh What a Circus,” “And the Money Kept Rolling In (And Out)” and “High Flying Adored” with Pacheco.
The chorus of children made up of Elizabeth Godec, Danika Howard, Aksel Moeller and Malin Moeller will be sure to steal your heart. It is a wonderful addition to the already lively cast performances. Katie Catalano delivered a passionate “Another Suitcase in Another Hall.”
This was my first time at St. Mark’s Players, a beautiful venue in its own right inside St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill. While the space did not feel spacious to me at first glance, lighting by Jerry Dale and set design by Margaret Chapman make the most of this space really turning it into Buenos Aires.
Furthermore, what was a real treat was the presence of a live orchestra. While this would seem like a luxury reserved for more established theaters, St. Mark’s Players truly went above and beyond with the production values of their Evita. Orchestra Director Kevin Diana and his fine musicians played the iconic score beautifully.
If you find yourself in the Capitol Hill area, make sure you pay St. Mark a visit. It is a hidden gem of the city, with a one-of-a-kind community theatre ensemble that takes musical theater seriously and performs with fervor. The opening night was filled –I had to scramble for a seat— and the crowd was so pleased by the end of the performance there was a well-deserved standing ovation.
There is something so pleasing about a community theatre that does fine work, and St. Mark’s Players accomplishes this with its rousing production of Evita.
Running Time: Two hours, including a 15-minute intermission.
Evita plays through May 20, 2017, at St. Mark’s Players performing at St. Marks Episcopal Church – 301 A Street SE, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 546-9670, and leave a message, or purchase them online.