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Evita cast delivers commanding performance

Photo courtesy of Sara Mitschke.

Texas State’s production of Evita opened Nov. 17 to a packed auditorium of Bobcats and San Marcos residents in the Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre.

The musicalized story of former first lady of Argentina, Eva Perón, begins with the announcement of Eva’s death to the cries of thousands who adored her—all but one. Enter Ché, our guide and Devil’s advocate through Eva’s life and eventual rise to power.

After being taken to Buenos Aires by tango singer Magaldi, Eva begins to rise through the ranks on her own terms, eventually becoming a socialite and an actress. During that time she meets Perón, who was then working as an army colonel. The two are smitten and proceed to take Argentina by storm.

Under the direction of J. Robert Moore, the cast soars in every aspect of their roles. Moore clearly did his homework and has put on an incredible show.

The vocals are top notch—a must for this rock opera. The performance verges on Broadway quality and the work of Cassie Abate, head of dance, and Ty Taylor, associate choreographer, is a glorious spectacle and whirlwind of song and dance.

The scenic design and work of Cheri Prough DeVol is reminiscent of old Hollywood and 1940s Argentina. DeVol’s work is a sight to behold and perfectly sets the scene for the events as they unfold throughout the musical.

The lights, which were designed by Sarah Maines, are a show in themselves, setting the mood in key scenes, such as “The Art of the Possible” and the pivotal waltz between Eva and Ché. Needless to say, Kaitlin Hopkins’ students sparkle, bringing down the house with killer vocals, and—most importantly—bringing Eva back to life.

The cast stars Michaela Boissonneault in the title role, Ryne Nardecchia as Ché, Michael Burrell as Perón, Grayson Yockey as Magaldi, and Chandler Lovelle as the Mistress.

As Eva, Boissonneault is unbreakable. She transforms from a diva to a saint in the blink of an eye, and has no problem belting to the far back of the auditorium in some parts of the show.

The actress is lovely in the number of the outfits she sports, and will leave the audience with chills during the balcony scene. You won’t cry for her—hr maybe you will, but in a good way.

As Ché, Nardecchia flat out steals the show. Though the audience can’t help but love Eva, we relish Ché’h cheeky nature and rejoice when he returns to the stage. There could not be a better storyteller. His crystal-clear voice conveys the story flawlessly and creates a lovely balance to the powerful eeriness of the show.

Burrell’s Perón is a perfect compliment to Boissonneault’s Eva. He is stoic, powerful, commanding and definitely reminiscent of Michael Cerveris—iroadway’s latest Perón.

Meanwhile, Yockey is a perfect fit for Magaldi—eencil mustache and all—and Lovelle brings a new light to the Mistress, giving a lovely rendition of “Another Suitcase In Another Hall.”

The ensemble is a strong support system, and the little girls who perform “Santa Evita” and certain ensemble numbers are completely loveable. The cast is a spectacular aspect of a wonderful show.

Evita is a tough nut to crack for a collegiate group, but Texas State’s version is an unbelievable spectacle that is not to be missed., Evita is a theater favorite, for history buffs and theatergoers alike, and this rendition definitely lives up to the hype and brings something new to the table that is fascinating to watch.