Evita at STC: A Haunting Hanging Dress, Military Musical Chairs, and More

Shereen Pimentel in EVITA at Shakespeare Theatre Company. (DJ Corey Photography)

Even those who didn’t see Evita in its over 40 years on Broadway know Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s iconic “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina!” But admittedly, many who finally see the performance currently on stage at Shakespeare Theatre (in a co-production with Massachusett’s American Repertory Theater) may find themselves wondering just why Argentina was crying.

The rags-to-riches story of Argentina’s most famous former First Lady (1946-1952) tells the story of her lofty — and apparently cutthroat — ambition to rise to the top, affecting Argentina’s society and politics. And while audiences should be able to follow her story easily enough, even after two hours of telling, it remains unclear the reason the country revered her so… or, honestly, if it even did.

Omar Lopez-Cepero (front), Shereen Pimentel (center), and the cast of EVITA at Shakespeare Theatre Company. (DJ Corey Photography)

And maybe that is the point. She was admired, celebrated, hated, and grieved. That’s an interesting life. But maybe lives like those don’t always fit so neatly into two-hour modern musicals with Rice & Webber lyrics. You’ll have to see for yourself.

It is clear that Shereen Pimental (Evita) has a superb voice, yes even with Webber’s not-quite-operatic rendering a tough task to tune. And Caesar Samayoa (Colonel-then-President Juan Perón) has a soothing sound. But it was difficult to distinguish their words. (It was explained that ART brought its own sound system for this production. Harmon Hall has an exceptional sound system.)

Omar Lopez-Cepero (center) and the cast of EVITA at Shakespeare Theatre Company. (DJ Corey Photography)

Omar Lopez-Capero (Che Guevara), a narrator who juxtaposes the Peróns’ braggadocio, was easier to understand — indeed a vocal highlight. He also provides some levity to what is, in all respects, a tragic story. However, despite several theatrical attempts to prove that Che had been an intimate of the Peróns, my companion left the theatre without gleaning this, so the effectiveness there remains to be seen.

But – there is much to love!!

Even before the production really got underway, Evita was extended through October 15th at the Shakespeare Theatre, so it is clear that DC loves Evita! And there are two major reasons to take advantage of these additional performances — Jason Sherwood’s exquisite set design and THE DANCING! Not only is there a tango that mesmerizes, but Perón’s soldiers equally entrance (and you won’t want to miss military musical chairs!).

Evita runs through October 15, 2023, at STC’s Harman Hall.