‘Evita? In Singapore?’ I raised my eyebrows when I first caught sight of the advert last year. ‘This would truly be a first’ I thought, and in many ways it is.
After all, this is not your typical Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that would usually land on Singapore shores. There’s no dramatic love story with a sweeping score (Phantom of the Opera), no colorful dances and jig-worthy tunes (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) nor are there any make-believe animals (CATS) or one with highly energetic and engaging acts (Starlight Express). Set in 1940s Argentina during the political unrest that saw the rise to power of Juan Peron as Argentina’s president, Evita does seems remote for majority of the Singapore audience.
Why catch EVITA then? Here’s our take on why EVITA is still a musical worth watching.
Helming the Asian debut of EVITA here in Singapore is legendary Broadway director, Hal Prince. The rendition of the story was cleverly percolated through, short, and succinct with the actors’ acting and dance moves tack-sharp keeping the audiences engaged throughout the musical despite it being ‘not your typical Webber’ musical.
British theatre actress, Emma Kingston’s Evita had us spellbound. Though we may not be familiar with the history of Argentina, Kingston convincingly brought out the essence of the late First Lady’s persona particularly in her soliloquys. One should not miss her rendition of ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’, her commanding presence, resplendent in the white ball gown, kept the entire audience in the MasterCard Grand Theatre, riveted.
The person that held the entire musical together is undeniably Jonathan Roxmouth’s Che. For that, he clearly deserved the loudest applause at curtain call. He played Che Guevera, the late Argentinean Marxist and guerilla leader and Evita’s critic. Roxmouth’s Che moved effectively in between scenes to assertively counter Evita’s political advances and ideology. He linked the scenes and the storyline seamlessly. This is a musical that is clearly not carried by popular tunes or lively dances but by the human emotions and drama of the 5 main characters.
This is, again, not your typical Webber. Right from the get-go, the dissonance in the harmony during the opening funeral scene puts one in relative unease. Save for some scant melodic lines, the dissonance in harmony runs throughout the entire musical to symbolize the strange phenomenon that is Eva Peron’s meteoritic rise and cult-like saintly influence on the Argentinian public.
But it is this dissonance that enhances the tunes which Evita carry – which almost always burst into the scene with sweeping melodic lines and moving chord progression – think ‘ Don’t cry for me Argentina’ and ‘You must love me’ among them. It is this interplay of dissonance and harmony that was strangely captivating, especially when played live by the accompanying orchestra. Over and above this are the Argentinian tunes with its subtle tango rhythms, accompanied by a live accordion that makes the music accompaniment refreshing yet provoking.
The set is relatively simple but yet profoundly clever. Slightly understated for an iconic Webber musical but through it helps the audience to focus on what is essential – the acting and the melodrama unfolding. Noteworthy is the scene ‘Charity Concert’ where Eva Duarte first meets Juan Peron. Audiences were made to see the stage from a side profile with performances still ‘ongoing’ while both Peron and Evita flirted backstage.
Suitable for Children?
The political backdrop and sexual innuendos in the musical do not lend itself suitable for children. Moreover the conversations are mainly driven by political ideology which will be lost on them. There are other family-friendly productions lined up this year (such as Lion King!) which you can save up to bring the kids.
Evita in Singapore:
EVITA is like a coming-of-age for Singapore’s musical theatre scene. Aside from the family-friendly productions, a musical such as EVITA provokes us to reflect on our own place in our communities. When does dictatorship end and when does true altruism for nation rise above self-ambition and how do each of us play a part in carving out the story of our lives and collectively, that of our nation.
Show Dates: Fri, 23 February to Sun, 18 March 2018
Tue – Fri: 8pm
Sat: 2pm & 8pm
Sun: 1pm & 6pm
Venue: Mastercard Theatre at Marina Bay Sands
Tickets Sales: From Sistic (Excludes Booking Fee)
VIP Reserve : S$185
A Reserve : S$155
B Reserve : S$125
C Reserve : S$95
D Reserve : S$75
E Reserve : S$55
VIP Box (For 4 seats): S$740
Box Seat(For 4 seats): S$380
Limited Time Offer: Cool Tix (Students & NSFs) at S$35 nett ticket* | Silver Tix (Senior Citizens above 60 years old) at S$35 nett ticket*