Tuesday, May 10, 2016


When the money keeps rollin in
what's a girl to do?
Cream a little off the top
for expenses wouldn't you?
Never been accounts in
the name of Eva Peron
~ Evita

Don't recognize that lyric? Well it isn't in the movie version. I wondered why Antonio Banderas was so angry at Madonna. Her Eva Peron didn't seem to accomplish much of anything, good or bad. Turns out the film cut several references to the Peron's crimes, settling for ambiguous montages. The film doesn't even bother to tell us what she's dying of.

The stage musical presented Eva as a ruthless opportunist. The New York Times has described it thus:

Some of the musical detractors have objected to ''Evita's'' glamorization of a fascinating, albeit Fascist, figure. The show has even been compared with ''Springtime for Hitler,'' the parody in the film ''The Producers.'' This is sheer nonsense. ''Evita'' is about media manipulation, the power of ''hype,'' the gullibility of the masses and, perhaps most of all, the arbitrariness of stardom.

However Madonna's turn seems to present her as a feminist icon. In an interview with Roger Ebert she said:

And then there were the people who thought she was a saint. They thought only Mother Teresa could portray her in a movie. Then there were other people who thought she was a sinner, and they didn't want a tribute being made to her. So it got very confusing.... The stage version of the musical portrays a very one-dimensional version of her. It doesn't show her in a very humane way; it doesn't show any vulnerability, it doesn't explain her past. Alan Parker had the chance to do that in a movie

Madonna took some flak for lowering Webber's keys, but even Patti LuPone admits the original score is a bear to sing:

"I was always in danger, from the first D, which was at 20 minutes into the show," says LuPone.

The dependence on a star with a range of E3-G5 makes Evita challenging to revive. Elena Roger won praise in London but when she transferred to Broadway in 2012 she drew mixed reviews. Some suggested the role had simply overtaxed her voice after years of performing. Despite the song, Eva is a role that will make a singer cry.

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