REVIEW: ‘Evita’ is the Jewel in Avon Players’ Diamond Anniversary Season

Avon Players is closing out their 75th anniversary season with the sweeping biographical musical, Evita, running now until June 11, 2022, in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

Directed by John (JD) Deierlein and with lyrics and music by the legendary duo of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, respectively, Evita chronicles the rise of Eva Duarte, from a poor teenage nobody to the glamourous and powerful second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón.

The cast of ‘Evita’ at Avon Players Theatre. Photo courtesy of Bryan Clifford.

The play opens with her death. All of Argentina is in mourning the loss of their beloved Evita (“Requiem for Evita”). Everyone except for Che played masterfully by Adam Wager. Che embodies many roles throughout the play. He acts as a narrator, and he represents the common man, but he’s also a devil’s advocate when it comes to all the praise being heaped on Eva as shown in the song “Oh What a Circus”:

Oh, what a circus, oh what a show, Argentina has gone to townOver the death of an actress called Eva Perón

Is Eva Perón a sinner or savior? As with most rags-to-riches stories, the answer is complicated. In truth, she’s probably a bit of both, which is why casting the right actress to play her character arc is critical. Lori Smith was the ideal choice. Smith has a solid history with Avon Players, both on the stage and behind the scenes, and the vocal range to pull off such a recognizable role.

Eva has dreams and ambitions (“Buenos Aires”) and she’s willing to use whatever means necessary to achieve her goals. Her desire for power and respect is what drives her to reinvent herself to escape her past and secure the future she believes she deserves. Eva’s first step is exploiting Agustín Magaldi, played by Matt Cason, as her ticket out of her provincial life. The pinnacle of her transformation comes when she finally meets Juan Perón, played by Dan Romzek (“I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You”). Together, they will create a new Argentina with Eva in the starring role of a lifetime.

Dan Romzek (Juan Peron) and Lori Smith (Eva Peron) greet the people of Argentina in ‘Evita’ at Avon Players Theatre.
Photo courtesy of Bryan Clifford

Even those who are not theatre buffs know about the iconic moment when Eva Perón steps out onto the balcony as the first lady of Argentina, raises her arms, and passionately sings “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.” This was an amazing moment. And at that moment, she believes her reinvention is complete. That she will be loved and respected. Smith’s entrance was nothing short of spectacular. It gave me goosebumps and prompted applause from the audience. Again, Smith deserves high praise for her portrayal of Eva. She absolutely sells it at each stage of Eva’s life she’s representing. Equally worthy of praise are Anne Curtis and Michelle Kaiser (Costume Design), Mariana Gabriel (Makeup Design), and Louise Holoday (Hair & Wig Design). This creative team blew me away with the variety of outfits, wigs, and attention to detail. Absolutely outstanding from head to toe in every scene. All these elements working together further helped Smith successfully embody her role.

Charlatan or Cultural icon? Myth or Martyr? There are many sides to Eva Perón. That’s what has made her so interesting and why Evita has graced numerous stages around the world for over 40 years. Her story draws you in and keeps your attention until the very end. Don’t miss your chance to be entranced by the mystique of Evita. This production is truly a diamond from every angle.

The performance runs approximately two hours with one 15-minute intermission.

Tickets for all shows are $25. Call 248-608-9077 for tickets or order online at www.AvonPlayers.org. Discounts on matinee tickets are available for seniors and students; call the box office for details. Additionally, group rates are available by calling the box office. “Like” Avon Players Theatre on Facebook for special offers on tickets. All major credit cards are accepted. All seats are reserved. 

Catch one of these remaining performances:

  • Friday, June 3, 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 4, 8:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 5, 2:00 p.m.
  • Friday, June 10, 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 11, 8:00 p.m.
About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at [email protected].

Comments

  1. Carol Pennington says

    We went to this marvelous production last night. I was moved to tears and awe with the quality of this production Kudos to all who put this together. Absolute perfection. I urge those who have not seen it to do so!!

  2. Sarah – Thank you, as usual, for the reviews and you continued support of Avon Players!

Leave a Reply to Carol Pennington Cancel reply

*