Eva Peron, the first lady of Argentina, enjoyed folk heroine status and was considered a popular cultural icon, who rose from poverty to incredible power.  Acting in the theater from the age of fifteen, she left home with a cardboard suitcase and played roles as diverse as Sarah Bernhardt, Elizabeth I of England and the last Tzarina of Russia, but her greatest role was as the second wife of Juan Peron and the “Spiritual Leader of the Nation” of Argentina.

    To gain insights into the motivation behind the mask, attend the excellent Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber production of the hit Broadway musical “Evita” playing at the Ivoryton Playhouse until Sunday, August 31. 

    Christine Marie Heath embraces the role of Evita, which means “little Eva,”  with just the right blend of ambition, compassion and flamboyancy, striving to use her influence to advance her own prowess as well as to help the poor gain a better lot in life.  The totally sung production begins at the death of the “fantasy queen,” “the goddess.” “the Cinderella of the tango, “the Sleeping Beauty of Latin America” and follows her meteoric rise to fame and success.  Born out of wedlock, in dire poverty, she used her beauty and captivating charm to advance her personal agenda.

    Calling the day she met Peron (Al Bundonis) at a fundraising party for earthquake victims her “marvelous day,” she overcame her lack of formal education and theatrical career to raise herself and her husband to deity status.  Throughout the majestic musical are such memorable numbers as “Buenos Aires,” “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” “Rainbow High” and  “And the Money Kept Rolling In.”  Her actions are continually questioned by Che, a man of the people, portrayed dramatically by Robert Felbinger.  Kathleen Mulready and Alfonso Chavez play stepping stones that Eva uses and abandons on her way to the top.  Leslie Unger directs this absorbing musical on a versatile set designed by Michael Meister, with glorious lighting by Doug Harry and amazing costumes by Vivianna Lamb.

    For tickets ($35 adults, $30 seniors, $20 students, $15 children), call Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton (exit 3 or 4 off route 9) at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. ; Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Wednesday and Sunday at  2 p.m.

    Decide for yourself if you agree with Che that Eva was a “tasteless phenomenon” or with Juan that she was “high flying adored.”

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