By David A. Rosenberg
At Norwalk’s Music Theater of Connecticut, a cut-down version of the sketchy Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice hit, “Evita” (seen at the first preview), has its virtues, notably a couple of performances. Starting life as a concept album, the stage rendering betrays its origins as a skimpy work about some very unpleasant people. At MTC, director Kevin Connors accepts its limitations, giving it a treatment similar to one he so excellently gave “Cabaret” some years ago. But “Cabaret” was an intimate story, lending itself to miniaturization, while “Evita” deals with a larger canvas, no less than the rise and fall of Argentina’s Eva Peron from local chippy to powerful, corrupt politician.
In the limited MTC space, crowds are suggested by just a few performers, supplemented by newsreel film clips. The famous musical chairs sequence, where the last man sitting is Juan Peron, retains its originality. But a number where soldiers go in and out of formation is directed to one side of the audience only, losing lyrics and impact.
Still, Daniel C. Levine’s cynical Che and Katerina Papacostas’ calculating Eva make up for shortcomings and the evening grows in strength. Instead of aiming for the guts, in the second act they reveal the sensuality, terror and baggage of these two ambitious enemies. Both become more selfish yet, at the same time, more human, less cogs in the wheels of a would-be spectacle and more yearning figures with thwarted ambitions.
Of others, Christopher DeRosa is a wonderfully egotistic Magaldi, stopping the show with “On This Night of a Thousand Stars.” Technical credits are minimal -- costumes and set are adequate, lighting is not. Becky Timms’ choreography is pedestrian but the four-piece band under Thomas Martin Conroy adds vigor to the sung-through, symphonic score.