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August 2010 - Nr. 8
Irena Syrokomla

Evita! at Stratford Festival

Evita! is one of the early works of Andrew Lloyd Weber – in 1979 he collaborated with Tim Rice who wrote the lyrics for this play. They have worked together on a number of other famous musical masterpieces. What can I say – the music is great, with famous melodies, famous songs working so well together.

This production of Evita! must be the best I have ever seen, and I have seen a few. It opens with a movie being played in 1953 – old fashioned black and white, jagged projection and stilted speech – being interrupted by the news of Evita’s death. Argentina and Argentineans are in shock in their grief. And then the whole story of the life of their greatest heroine, the most loved Santa Evita, rolls in front of us.

There are different approaches possible for Evita’s production: Evita the actress, Evita the slut, Evita the career woman, Evita the patriot. This production paints Evita as an ambitious progressive woman, a true patriot loving and being loved by Argentina’s people. There is some mention of her pre-Peron life; however, the choice of costumes and presentation tones it down considerably. There is also mention of millions stashed in the Swiss bank accounts, but it is marginal to Evita's love for the people and being loved by the people. The memory of Evita the Saint and Evita the Patriot is very much alive in Buenos Aires, where Casa Rosada is viewed primarily as a palace where Evita and Peron resided, and only incidentally as the government office. The tomb where she is buried is a prominent historical site.

Juan Chioran as Juan Perón and Chilina Kennedy as Eva Perón - Photo: David HouThis practically sold out show is directed by Gary Griffin, with choreography by Tracey Flye. Chillina Kennedy and Juan Chioran as Peron play leading roles. Remember them from West Side Story?  They do have a future in the acting world. Chillina Kennedy as Evita is wonderful, more elegant than sluty, and Juan Chioran embodies Peron with his mannerisms better than anyone would imagine. Somehow his own background - born in Argentina - must have helped.

at Avon Theatre continues to the end of October and, believe me, it is worth the trip to Stratford!

Tempest at Festival Theatre, Stratford

This summer there is much less murder on the stage in Stratford. Tempest is one of those shakespearian plays about goodwill and reconciliation, including magical tricks and a happy wedding. It even hints at retirement. A bit of a change, if I may say so.

Christopher Plummer as Prospero and Trish Lindström as Miranda - Photo: David HouIn this production, the central figure of Prospero is acted by Christopher Plummer, relaxed, mature and so much appreciated. He has an almost tangible relationship with the audience, we have seen each other before, please be yourself, we appreciate you so much. His magic is playful and beautifully managed by the stage crew. His relationship with his daughter Miranda, played by Trish Lindström, is more relaxed, indulgent, and showing more of an emotional bond than in other productions.

Besides Plummer, another captivating figure is Ariel, played by Julyana Soelistyo. This role is usually given to strong male actors, this time it is a female of almost childlike stature flying about in the air, appearing somewhere high up on the cliff, running to Prospero with the cry “Yes, master?” She is amazing, light and magical, playful and dreamlike. Somehow she does not belong to the group of island spirits, perhaps Ariel is not even real, perhaps only the product of Prospero’s imagination. The idea of making her (it?) so different from anyone, even with the attire, is so innovative and amazing. What a great idea!

Tempest is directed by Des McAnuff. In 2008 he directed Ceasar and Cleopatra, another success now available in DVD. Among actors, some working at Stratford for years, some in debut, worth noticing is James Blendick. And as I said – the stage design aspects of lighting, music and magical tricks are outstanding.

is running until mid September. If you plan to see it – call the box office. At the performance I attended there were no seats left and last minute visitors were turned away. Sorry.

The box office number is 1-800-567-1600 or connect to

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Irena Syrokomla reviews arts, entertainment, the performing arts such as theatre, musicals, stage performances.

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