AISLE SAY Florida
Golden Apple Dinner Theatre
25 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-5454; 800-652-0920
January through March 16, 2008
An intriguing dark mood permeates Golden Apple's spare staging that emphasizes acting and dance in the sung-through drama of Eva Peron's short life with long-lived impact on Argentina. Every song seems integral to her story. Even though the major two songs, rather than Lloyd-Webber's usual one per play, are memorable enough to be sung on their own, "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" and "A New Argentina" don't have much point removed from their context. It's unfortunate, then, that star Rachel Anton's vocal quality disappoints. Ironically, Sarah Farnam as Juan Peron's discarded mistress is better-voiced, better looking, better at conveying vulnerability. On the plus side, Anton clearly shows how superior were Evita's wiles. Male leads prove comparable as well. Jorge Acosta, a dramatically laid back Peron, gets just enough vocal opportunities to hint at how well he can sing. The nicely filled role of better lover goes to fiery Armando Acevedo as heartthrob performer Magaldi, leader of Evita's first step up the ladder of success. A charismatic, clear-voiced Joey Panek emerges as the star, however, a Che Guevarra whose commentary centers the action, whose vivid moves underscore ideas, emotions.
Director Kyle Turoff gets the company to fill multiple identities with ease. To keep her concept expressive rather than oppressive, she keeps episodes fast- flowing, Charlene Clark's choreography contributes greatly. A sexy tango to a drum-beating military high-stepping to a "Waltz for Eva and Che" balance the full-company dances. Besides the expected iconic white gown and jewels for a dyed blond Evita on her balcony, Dee Richards has designed other women's costumes most appropriate to class and occasion. Michael Newton-Brown's levels of scenery and lighting are complementary. Musical Director John Visser and his small orchestra never let up but don't overwhelm the singers.
Stage Manager is Alyssa Goudy. Time: 2 hrs., 10 mins. w/15 min. intermission.