Don’t Cry for Evita, Providence

theatre1Evita has kicked off its national tour at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC). The show runs until Saturday, September 14.

Evita tells the story of Eva Perón, a ruthlessly ambitious social climber who rose from rags to riches and served as the first lady of Argentina from 1946 till 1952. She died of cancer at the age of 33.

Under the direction of Michael Grandage, Evita is an energetic, but soulless, spectacle that keeps its main character at arm’s length from the audience.

The show’s technical aspects are competent. The score by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber features a splendid mix of ballads and upbeat dance numbers. The choreography by Tony Award-winner Rob Ashford gives the show’s ensemble plenty of opportunity to shine. The costumes and set design are superb.

More problematic is the lead performance of Caroline Bowman, who has appeared on Broadway in Kinky Boots.

Bowman has stellar vocal ability, but her Eva Perón lacks the necessary charisma the role requires. Evita is a larger-than-life figure who needs a larger-than-life personality in the role. Madonna played Evita in the 1996 motion picture with the right mix of flash and attitude. She was a diva playing a diva. Here, Bowman seems to be a stand-in.

Josh Young, a truly wonderful singer, fares better as Che, the omnipresent narrator, who has a mix of disdain and admiration for Eva.

“She had her moments, she had some style,” Che sings at one point.

Sean MacLaughlin plays Juan Peron, the love of Eva’s life.

MacLaughlin and Bowman have terrific chemistry and shine on the romantic duet, “I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You.”

Act One focuses on Eva’s romance with Juan and her seduction of the Argentine people, ending with the rousing, “A New Argentina.”  Other highlights include the sassy “Buenos Aires” and the poignant “Another Suitcase in Another Hall,” sung by one of Perón’s discarded mistresses (Krystina Alabado).

Act Two showcases Eva’s reign as first lady of Argentina. The show’s most famous moment features Eva addressing her adoring fans from the balcony of the Presidential palace, where she sings “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”

As the show winds down, Eva’s health deteriorates and she says her goodbyes to the country that loved her.

One of Bowman’s finest moments is an impassioned performance of “You Must Love Me,” which was first featured in the 1996 motion picture of Evita.

Overall, Evita is entertaining, but doesn’t quite grab your heart the way a truly great musical should.

Tickets for EVITA are $80 – $43; all ticket prices include a $3 per ticket restoration charge and are subject to change without notice. Tickets are available online at, by phone at (401) 421-ARTS (2787), and at the PPAC Box Office, located at 220 Weybosset Street in downtown Providence.


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