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Story by Andy Argyrakis
The rags to riches ascent of Eva Peron isn't just something of universal appeal, but also one that examines several sides of her complex persona. On the current tour, Caroline Bowman rises up to the challenge and succeeds, briskly blossoming from a pauper in the slums of Argentina, to a radio personality and actress, to the country's first lady. Throughout the journey, the charismatic character serves as a people's champion and firm supporter of equality across class lines, eventually being branded as the world's very first political celebrity.
Nonetheless, "Evita" also examines its leading lady through a critical lens at times, such as her constant pushing of moral and ethical boundaries as she bounces between powerful men or falling prey to the trappings of power and greed. The fact that she passes away after a rapidly debilitating bout with cancer at a mere 33-years-old also adds another tragic dimension to this driven woman, though make no mistake, Eva's legacy remains her ability to never forget the feeling of walking in a peasant's shoes even while climbing the ladder to the very top.
Musically, the touring production still sounds stunning, especially during the pair of beautiful ballads "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" and "You Must Love Me," both of which serve as emotional pinnacles of the show. Bowman possesses a more theatrical delivery than the pop-minded Madonna, and while comparisons between the two divergent worlds would be futile, both audiences are sure to be satisfied with these passionate interpretations. Combine those tunes with the true life tale itself, and "Evita" not only ages gracefully, but continues to offer just the right blend of hope and heartache over three decades since its first curtain rose.
"Evita" continues at Chicago's Oriental Theatre through October 6. For additional details, visit www.broadwayinchicago.com.
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