“Evita” is the story of the Argentine political sweetheart who rose from poverty to the first lady of her country. This rock opera type musical swept up accolades when it first opened and continues to do so today. Donald E. Birely directs Torrington’s Warner Theatre production and the musical staging, while Williard Minton is the musical director and Richie Lucibello is choreographer.
With such a large community cast, it’s amazing that a production of this caliber becomes stage ready. And it certainly is that. With few exceptions, this show is top notch. However, there were a few distractions. One singer screeched the high notes; one dancer couldn’t stay in step with the others, but overall, the performances were so good that the audience gave the show a well deserved standing ovation.
Adrianne DiCerbo in the title role appeared courtesy of Actors Equity and added professional brilliance to the role even after a few tough notes in the opening. From then on, it was sparkle and shine. John Farias as Che also performs well as the cynic narrator who points out all of Evita’s shortcomings. Though not as authoritative as others in this role, Farias is every bit as enthusiastic and is in good voice throughout the performance. Meric Martin as Magaldi, Evita’s first lover, nearly steals the show with his incredible vocals. He delivers a show stopping performance whenever he starts singing that fabulous number “On This Night of a Thousand Stars.” Tim Reilly as Juan Peron performs admirably throughout and is a commanding figure.
Delivering stellar performances were the two spotlight tango dancers, William Dalton and Amber Mason. Their performances were as smooth and graceful as fluid motion. Their performances were breathtaking. If there is a flaw with Webber’s vision, it is that these dancers are upstaged. They should be center stage and spotlighted.
Dominique Altomari as General Peron’s first mistress does a fine job with her solo and all of the musical-chair generals add to the lightheartedness of the play. The ensemble is strong and never fails to deliver a robust rendering of each musical number it appears in. The children’s ensemble also adds a delicate touch of innocence in just the right spots. Certainly, director Birely and musical director Minton had their fingers on the pulse of this production. The dancers were also very good with a mix of talent pulled together under the choreographic vision of Richie Lucibello.
Steve Loftus’ set design is one of the best-looking sets for this musical. While construction sets seemed to be the norm when designing this show, Loftus actually creates the center of the town square where Evita gives her sensational rendering of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.” Costume designer Matthew Dettmer and costume shop manager Renee C. Purdy delivered the goods in high fashion. When Evita makes her grand entrance in her shimmering and sparkling white gown then Dan Rousseau’s magnificient lighting design and Chris LaPlante’s dound design come together to create one of the highlight moments of the show.
Overall, this is a great musical and a wonderful production. It plays through Feb. 9. Box office: 860- 489-7180.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association, and covers art and culture in a blog for CBS and CBS-CT. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]