As the houselights dim, the excitement in the air is palpable.
Audience conversation is curtailed by the presence of massive
murals above and to each side of us, as well as covering the stage.
On the rich tapestries (in the style of Jose Clemente Orozco),
we see the people of Argentina--workers and the wealthy, children,
sick, the impoverished and the military. There is no overture,
instead we see a film on a huge screen which nearly covers the
stage. Beyond it, the feet and sounds of the theatre patrons. The
black and white film sputters to a stop and we hear catcalls and
boos from the patrons. A man, silhouetted against the now empty
screen, announces ..."To inform the people of Argentina that Eva
Peron, spiritual leader of the nation, entered immortality at 20.25
hours today."

The screen majestically slides upstage while beaming down lights
to illuminate the grief-stricken patrons. The orchestra surges into
the funeral dirge and swiftly, the stage is cleared of chairs and men
in white shirts solemnly lead the funeral procession onstage and
open the coffin. The mourners move in a hesitation step samba
past the coffin, some crossing themselves, others, hysterical,
throwing themselves on the bier. Documentary newreel footage of
the actual funeral procession fills the screen. Into this, weaves a
cigar smoking, fatigue-garbed man, who looks into the coffin, then
moves downstage to confront the audience. 'Sing You Fools,' is his
reaction to the crowd, Oh What a Circus his observation to the
audience. He informs us the glitzy years of Eva's rule were empty
ones for the country. This all-purpose revolutionary is Che Guevara,
who will strip the Peron years of their glamour, exposing the
crawling corruption beneath.

Suddenly it is 1935 and the evening light is fading outside a tawdry
cafe in Junin, Argentina. A well-known tango singer, Agustin
Magaldi, is finishing his act (On This Night of a Thousand Stars) to
the boredom of the patrons except for 15-year-old Eva Duarte, her
three sisters and brother. Eva works her charms on him, and in
nothing flat, Magaldi finds himself with her suitcase in his arms,
taking Eva to Buenos Aires. Eva's first look at the big city is
passionate. She knew it would be like this. At last, the possibilities
are endless. Through a clever revolving door (with a mattress on one
side) the next few years are encapsuled in a procession of lovers
passing through, leaving an ever-more glamorous Eva, ending with
her in a stunning white ostrich-feather peignoir and better and better-
dressed men exiting her boudoir.

During this cynical spectacle, Che is there to comment caustically
on each step upward. He is Everyman, the Stage Manager and
Greek Chorus. (Guevara never met Eva, but he was Argentine, from
a staunchly liberal family.)

Meanwhile, Juan Peron survives a ruthless game of musical rocking
chairs (The Art of the Possible) with the rest of the G.O.U. colonels
and becomes a power in the new government. He's the principal
speaker at a Charity Concert (brilliantly staged facing into the
wings, so we can see the intricate maneuvering behind the
scenes), where he and Eva meet, calculatingly appraise each
other, and each decides I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You. Eva
ruthlessly tosses out Peron's nubile mistress du jour, who sings
the plaintive Another Suitcase In Another Hall.

As Eva and Peron move toward the top of the power structure, two
groups take notice--the offended army, and the aristocrats, who
have been ousted from power. The two groups interweave on the
stage with menace, but with no power to stop the couple
Latest Flame). Now installed in the luxury of Peron's
quarters, a glamorous Eva in a cream satin robe convinces the
faltering Juan to take control (A New Argentina) because
he has the
workers on his side. And suddenly, there they
are--surrounding the
lush bed with signs, banners and flaming torches to
proclaim their

Act 2 begins with The balcony pushed way downstage, the screen
behind it projecting the facade of the Casa Rosada. A crowd below
is getting revved up by Peron on the balcony. Che gets in one
comment "One has to admire the stage management" before being
mugged and dragged offstage by Peron's henchmen. Then
everything stills and the crowd calls, 'Evita, Evita,' and she
emerges, resplendent in a glittering white ball gown and tells the
people she loves them (Don't Cry for Me Argentina). After the song
but before her speech, we get a glimpse behind the scenes as the
center of the balcony revolves, the people move to the other side,
the monstrous crowd is shown on the screen. It revolves again, and
Eve delivers her rabble-rousing speech. She and Peron are now
married and he is the president of Argentina. When it's all over, Eva
deals with one voice of dissent and then undresses and sits at her
vanity (facing upstage) as Che asks her what now (High Flying,
Adored)? It's fascinating to watch her in repose (the only time we'll
see her that way), but her self contemplation becomes self
confidence and she finishes the song for him with a verse showing
her determination and ambition.

She dresses (Rainbow High) for her Rainbow Tour, and leaves while
Peron and his 'yes' men watch newsreel footage of the tour
projected on the screen. As Eva's reception in Europe falters,
Peron is more preoccupied by the two little cuties he's bouncing on
his knees. The consensus is 'yes' and 'no' but no one cares, really.
She comes back as the sleek, all-business, ruthless Eva, who has
built a shield to protect her from slings and arrows. Che questions
her motives, but she says, "Everything done will be justified by my
foundation" and the scene segues into The Money Keeps Rolling
In (and Out) as Eva dispenses cash and other goods to the poor.
Che notes that though the foundation funds are growing, so is Juan
and Eva's Swiss bank account. The aristocrats appear for one more
try to oust her, and she has her goons undress them, turning them
into the poor. After a staged religious tribute (Santa Evita), Che
observes, "Get them while they're young, Evita. Get them while
they're young."

This time, she whirls and confronts him and they berate each other
as they do a waltz macabre (Waltz for Eva and Che), never
touching, but with this electricity connecting them. No one wins as
she tells him to get on his bus, then cries to God about her
deteriorating physical health. Peron reminds the officers Eva's kept
them where they are (Dice are Rolling). It's a shock to see a
withered, shriveled Eva in her and Juan's adjoining bedrooms while
she begs to be made vice president, because "I'm not that ill..." but
Juan bluntly informs her she's dying. He slams the door between
them, then comes in when she collapses onto the floor. He looks in
the hall and swiftly closes the door so no one will see. Eva goes on
the radio (Eva's Final Broadcast) to decline the nomination officially,
then sees visions of her triumphs pass her, mockingly, on the
stage. She's helped to a hospital bed by a nurse and sings of her
dreams (Lament) and dies. The embalmers move in, Che emerges
to stare at Peron, who leaves, realizing he's got to find some way to
stop the erosion of his power base now that Eva's gone, and Che
tells us "A monument to Eva was planned, but never completed,
Peron was ousted three years later, and Eva's body disappeared for
17 years."
fuente: musica.com


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