The Western Stage concludes its 2019 season with Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revolutionary rock opera, “Evita”, based on the true story of a poor woman’s meteoric rise to power. “Evita” follows the life of Eva Perón from her humble beginnings to the extraordinary wealth, power, and status that ultimately led her to be heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’ by the Argentine people.
At the heart of the narrative is a double-love story. One is the romance between Eva and Juan Perón, Argentine Army General, and three-term President of Argentina. The other is a love story between Eva and the impoverished people of Argentina, the working class descamisados ("the shirtless ones," underprivileged workers), with whom Eva grew up. They loved her deeply and she loved them back. Juan Perón was the first national politician in Argentina to acknowledge the working class, making them promises and most astonishing, declaring himself one of them. The Act II opener, "Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina," is the hallmark of the entire story, a song and scene entirely about Eva’s relationship with the people. These two love stories are framed by Ché, the antagonistic narrator who continually warns us that Eva is a liar and manipulator. Originally, the character of Ché symbolized the Everyman Argentinian, not the revolutionary Ché Guevara, which is a convention created by Hal Prince for his original Broadway production. The brilliance of Tim Rice’s lyrics and narrative structure lies in this dichotomy between the cold, political, Brechtian world of Ché and the passionate, romantic, melodramatic world of Eva. Only when these two come together in the Act II "Waltz for Eva and Ché" does the lush romanticism of the music tangle with the hard-edged Brechtian political debate of the lyrics. Though they never met in real life, in “Evita” Eva and Ché are linked by destiny - both wanted a populist revolution, both were flawed and controversial leaders considered saints by their followers, and both eventually became cultural icons around the world.
“Evita” is about truth versus perceived truth. It’s about the power of public perception in political movements and radical social change. Rice and Lloyd Webber give conflicting views of who Eva Perón was, and we are left not knowing which to believe. Was she a saint and accidental political activist, as the people believed? Was she a devil, as Ché argues? Or was she a very talented woman emerging from the rejections and deprivations of her childhood to find the power to change those conditions for her people?
The Western Stage concludes its 2019 season with Tim Rice’s and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revolutionary rock opera, “Evita,” based on the true story of a poor woman’s meteoric rise to power. “Evita” follows the life of Eva Perón from her humble beginnings to the extraordinary wealth, power, and status that ultimately led her to be heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’ by the Argentine people.
Nov. 9, 10, 16 (GALA) 17, 23, 24 (ReActions & ASL Interpreters Present), 29, 30 and Dec. 6, 7. Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. Sundays 2:00 p.m.
Mainstage Theater, K104. Hartnell College Center for Performing Arts, Building K, 411 Central Ave., Salinas, Calif. 93901.
Tickets & Info:
$26 general admission, $24 for seniors and military and $12 for children age 5-15. Hartnell students are free with student I.D. Other students $20 with I.D. or $5 Student Rush (cash only) on day of performance. For single or group tickets and information, go to westernstage.com or call (831)-755-6816 (5-8 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday).