Marcia Milgrom Dodge demonstrates in Drury Lane’s Evita what great casting in 2022 looks like.
The director and choreographer gathered a cast diverse in race, age, and body type, creating what feels like an authentic picture of Argentina from 1934 to 1952. There is no color line among the military, upper-class, or poor. Her diverse choices are first revealed in the opening sequence where pairings include same-sex dancers alongside more traditional ones performing sultry tangos to the live accordion music.
Through 3/20: Wed 1:30 PM, Thu 1:30 and 8 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 8 PM, Sun 2 and 6 PM, Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, 630-530-0111, drurylanetheatre.com, $59-$74 ($5 senior discount for Wed and Thu matinees).
Later, she reimagines “The Art of the Possible” scene with drummers replacing musical chairs in an intense, exciting sequence.
Richard Bermudez stuns as Che, the cynical revolutionary who is on fire the entire performance. Sean MacLaughlin’s Peron oozes charisma and induces goosebumps with his deep, reverberating baritone.
At the performance I saw, Michelle Aravena struggled in the titular role throughout the first act. While she looked gorgeous and had fantastic physicality, her enunciation and phrasing were muffled. This disappeared in the second act when she put on a powerful performance worthy of the legend she portrayed.
While all period pieces require great costuming, Ryan Park outdoes himself with costumes that demonstrate Evita’s superstar style, and display the contrasts between the various Argentinian classes. The black-and-white checked costumes of the aristocrats, especially as a backdrop to Evita’s couture, are creative and eye-catching. Emily Young and Brittany Crinson’s wig and hair design is superlative.
Drury Lane offers a fresh look at this iconic figure, making the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical feel new.