evita peron 88.
(photo credit: )
By Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber
The Library Theater, Ramat Gan Municipal Theater
Ramat Gan's Library Theater, with its changing cast of gifted Beth Zvi graduates, has once again proven itself the leading light of Israeli-produced musicals. With Evita, the theater adds another triumph to a list including Hair, Grease and Arrividerce Roma, all of which are still running. But Evita, a political pageant cum operetta rather than a glitzy musical, radiates glamour of a more critical and dramatic order.
The production tells the story of a simple village girl and her rise from quasi-prostitute to whore of a more celebrated class. This she achieves with an expensive transformation in personal appearance, and by marrying three-term Argentinian president Juan Peron. She ultimately inspires worship from her countrymen and creates an attractive facade for her husband's fascist dictatorship, a role that continues to inflame debate in Argentina.
The show is accompanied by continuous commentary by Che (a suggestive name), a narrator who both reveres and reviles the title character while revealing the details of her self-serving, double-dealing career and the manipulative, man-eating, ruthlessly ambitious and narcissistc side of her personality.
An imposing architectonic set, inspired lighting, electric choreography, breathtaking costumes and polished choral and musical effects are coordinated by Moshe Kepitan in an exemplary feat of brightly-paced, effective direction. They're supported by superb perfomances, including that of Hila Zaitoun, a Byzantine beauty who dominates her scenes as Evita with an eloquent, sophisticated and highly glamorous portrait of a creature whose ambitions are even more dazzling than the furs and diamonds she flaunts. This role should guarantee Zaitoun a splendid future.
Noam Talmon, meanwhile, makes a magisterial Peron, displaying an imposing stage presence and a fine voice while Che, Evita's chattering nemesis, is played with passion by Itai Levi. An impressive chorus of singers and dancers accompany the title character through the stages of her stormy career, progressing from her father's funeral and work as a nightclub singer to her roles as radio star, pampered mistress and political leader, all of which Zaitoun presents with vivacity and disciplined brio.
A review of this inspired show would be incomplete without a word of gratitude to Geri Bilu, the power behind Beth Zvi and its Library Theater. His musicals, one hopes, will leave a lasting mark on the standard of productions on the Israeli stage.