The bottom line: Playing at Seattle's Paramount Theatre through Sunday, January 4, Evita, the story of Argentina’s young First Lady Eva Perón is a nonstop musical parade that showcases the complex life story of a powerful Latin American woman.
I took my seat at The Paramount with visions of the Evita movie in my head. My husband and I love the music from this show. The head profiles of Eva Perón and former President of Argentina Juan Perón decorate the stage curtains. These cut-outs rise and disappear as the orchestra begins its prelude. It’s an auspicious beginning for a show that roars to life with a dark, haunting funeral scene.
The first half of the show never slows -- it’s one bracing song after another that moves from the people-filled funeral scene to Eva’s early life, which moves from poverty and dreams of becoming an actress to her days as a radio star in Buenos Aires and marriage to Juan Perón, a colonel and government official who became president of Argentina in 1946.
The orchestra fills the theater with swells of lovely music, but the lead, Caroline Bowman, doesn’t always portray Eva with three dimensions. It’s telling that the “mistress” played by Krystina Alabado captures the audience’s love with her one song of the evening. After Eva kicks the mistress out of Juan’s house, she packs her suitcase while singing a quiet but beautiful rendition of “Another Suitcase in Another Hall.” The narrator of the show, an Argentinian everyman named Che played by Josh Young, earned his standing ovation with his rich singing voice and compelling stage presence.
The second half of the show is not so brash, and paints a richer picture of Eva, detailing her love of the people and her illness and decline until death. When she sings “Lament” to her husband, asking him to love her, the sadness fills The Paramount. The show ends so quietly, a stark contrast to the opulent beginning, leaving the audience to wonder at Eva’s short life. I left hungry for more information about who Eva really was and why she captured the world’s imagination during her short life.
The music of Evita is rich, lovely, and moving; the orchestra does every song justice. A day after the show, the songs still play across my mind, filling it with enduring memories.
Parents should know
Opening night, I noticed a few 9- or 10-year-old children and many teenagers at the show. Eva’s love life before marriage was not tame, and the show makes this clear with racy song and dance numbers.
Although this rendition of her life doesn’t make her a hero, it’s worth discussing the complex nature of famous people after the show. Why does the narrator often sing about Eva’s glamorous nature? Why do the people of Argentina love Eva and loudly grieve the end of her short life? What makes her a hero and what makes her human? And, lastly, but not least, why is the stunning music so memorable and what tales does the music tell?
- Be prepared to discuss Eva Perón’s love life before marriage as well as her life story. Her family maintains this website. Other websites tell different parts of her story. Here’s a New York Times opinion piece, and Biography.com’s take on her life.
- Seating is not reserved, but arriving 20 minutes before any of their shows is early enough to enjoy a snack and find a seat.
- If your child has never been to the Paramount, take time to enjoy the elaborate interior, which is decorated in the Beaux Arts or the French Renaissance style. Walk to the top of the four-tiered lobby, and note the French baroque plaster moldings and gold-leaf encrusted wall medallions, gorgeous chandeliers, and intricate ironwork. Find The Paramount’s history here.
- This Broadway Tour show has a concession stand with CDs, T-shirts, and the like.
If you go ...
Where and when: Evita plays at The Paramount Theatre in Seattle through January 5, 2014.
Tickets: Tickets for Evita start at $25 and are available online or by calling 877-STG-4TIX, (784-4849) or in person at The Paramount Theatre Box Office (Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).