St. Albans & National Cathedral School's performance of "Evita" was poignant, emotionally intense and theatrically spectacular.
The musical opens with the funeral procession of Eva Peron, first lady of Argentina, amid shrieks and moans of grief. The show then flashes back to reveal the life and journey of the woman who became idolized in Argentina. She begins life as Eva Duarte, becoming Eva Peron after marrying Juan Peron, who was later elected president. The people of Argentina adore their first lady and affectionately call her "Evita." Through the narrations and observations of Che Guevara, the emotional roller coaster behind the always-smiling image of Evita Peron is exposed, revealing that the woman who appears to have the perfect life is not so perfect herself.
"Evita" is a difficult musical to pull off because virtually the entire show is sung. As a whole, the cast skillfully brought the show's complex songs to life with unmatched spirit and energy, hitting the highest and lowest of notes, and blending to create rich harmonies.
Greg Magee, as Che Guevara, showed excellent character development, delivering a biting and sardonic edge through his singing and his engaging interactions with the audience. His guitar-playing and confident falsetto singing were quite impressive.
Through her role as Eva Peron, Braden Lake exhibited fantastic vocals in several musical numbers, including "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," the musical's most famous song. She let her voice deteriorate as her character aged and became ill, making her portrayal more believable.
Emily Wilson as Peron's mistress worked wonders with a small role. Thanks to her hauntingly beautiful voice, her one solo, "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," became the most memorable song of the night.
The "Fab 5" (actually six actors) combined comic relief with powerful singing. The Charity Concert Tango Dancers, Isa Marin and Julian Kusnadi, added an Argentinean flair through their well-choreographed and effectively executed dance number. The oligarchs and the officers delivered well-coordinated dance moves and strong, consistent singing.
The lighting design by Chris Romilly brilliantly set the mood for every scene. The simple set design by Liz Crosbie allowed them to utilize it well. When a few sound difficulties occurred, the performers delivered 110 percent and kept the show's momentum going.
All in all, St. Albans & National Cathedral School's production of "Evita" was a stellar high school theater experience.
This review was supplied by Cappies, the Critics and Awards Program. Through Cappies, high school students review theatrical products at other schools. Kris Pourzal is a student at JEB Stuart High School in Falls Church.