|The Concord Journal||Thur, Nov 19, 1992|
|Actors make 'Evita' worth seeing|
The Concord Player's much anticipated production of Evita packed a powerful sense of realism and acting skill into its sold-out Friday night performance.
Evita, a physically demanding and politically loaded musical drama, is one of the most challenging pieces to be undertaken by a theater company. It is the story of Eva Peron, born into a peasant family who rose from poverty to become not only the wife of Argentine president Juan Peron, but one of the most powerful - and controversial - woman that Latin America has ever seen.
Director Kirsten Gould is to be commended for her concept of combining documentary slides and photographs into the musical which conveyed to the audience a sense of "realness" and understanding of Argentina in the 1940s. In fact, in the lobby of 51 Walden Argentine music played and the walls donned photos and quotes that invited theater goers into the life of Eva Peron before the show began.
This is an emotion-packed musical which begins and ends with Evita's death. Act I opens to a group of Argentineans at the cinema whose movie is interrupted by the announcement of Eva Peron's death. This is followed by an intriguing transition of these carefree theatergoers into mourners, who are then joined by more Argentine people in a Requiem for Evita. It was a very moving opening carried off by a confident and melodic company.
The first of the five main players, Che, played by Scott Fisher, then made his appearance. Che, an Argentine military leader, plays the Devil's advocate to the peasants seemingly blind admiration of Evita, and also acts as narrator of Evita's life.
His appearance in over half the scenes makes for a particularly demanding role, and one in which Fisher performed with such confidence that even when not singing, his presence on the sidelines, eyeing the Perons, was powerfully felt. However, it is his strong and clear voice that most conveyed the powerful defiance of this man.
Marc Clermont plays Magaldi, a lounge singer who brings Eva from her humble origins to the excitement of Buenos Aires, and is the first of her apparently many lovers. Clermont, a newcomer to The Players, brings humor to his role of a struggling singer and conveys it with a touch of sadness as he sees himself so readily replaced in the big city.
We first see Eva as a young peasant girl being swept away by Magaldi, and watch as she then transforms herself into a rather wild actress and then political leader. Shana Dirik appropriately steals the show in the title role with a beautiful voice and full understanding of her character's complicated persona. Evita's short life was a continuos internal conflict between yearning to help the very poor she came from and her own personal greed. Ms. Dirik, an actress since the age of 10, has the ability to subtly register the emotions of her character in facial and bodily movements, and quite dramatically, in a remarkable voice. In fact, her performance appeared to be transformed along with her character's development; continually improving throughout the performance, and perhaps reaching a dazzling peak with the renowned "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" scene of Act II.