Wow! What a great first weekend for the run of Evita, it really feel good. I think Sparger, Taylor, Zach, Terry, the ensemble and I found a groove after Thurs night’s run that just has us absolutely in the moment at all times. What a rush. Here we are ready to do it all again:) Its Thursday! YEAH!!! Here’s a short blog before I go run my stuff for the show and hit the pool to mediate a bit and soak up some sun for energy.
Everything has clicked with the show rather nicely. Doesn’t always happen, but more often than not I am thrilled with the shows I’m ivolved with in St Louis. I will say it time and time again that we have such a salad bowl of talent in this city that I see in so much of the smaller, non equity productions. It is refreshing to see people sticking around and doing good work for very little money. Doing good work for the sake of the story that needs to be told and in this case the music that needs to be heard. I love them all for giving themselves to this production. It shows.
This show is solid. The sound is good, the lights are fun, the band sounds great, the cast is really working hard to deliver the nuances of this story (and I don’t do any of the dancing), but they are dancing the hell of this choreography. I love the waltz! Robin Berger nailed it. As always.
Coming back to any show after one of these short breaks can be good and bad. The good part is getting to do three more nights of the show and getting back in front of the crowd to tell the story of this awesome moment in history. The bad is that you lose a bit of the momentum you had going over the first three nights. You have to get it back. Taylor (playing Eva) said me right after Sat night that she wanted to keep going. I agreed. I wanted a Sunday performance to bank on that momentum (alas, absolutely no Sundays with New Line unless its in the title, or you’re at DQ)
This show is like a lot of the dramas I’ve done (non-musicals) where the atmosphere backstage becomes more somber in tone. (No naked actors frollicking around the dressing rooms, or lots of loud raucus behavior as prep…as it was for Hair or maybe Rocky Horror or Batboy) This show is very different. Its the first real tragedy I’ve done that has this kind of weight to it. (Maybe Never the Sinner felt kinda like this…the story of Leopold and Loeb out at the NJT)
I’ve done musicals that carry a sort of emotional depth, and that require an audience to give something to the show emotionally as well. I feel Sunday, Hair, La Mancha and Batboy all have very tragic moments, but this one carries the tragedy throughout the whole show…lingering over the story like the ghost that won’t go away until its excorcized. I love the feeling this show has backstage. Its charged. It’s alive, and its moving…but its somewhat more serious than normal. Respectful… maybe not intentionally so, but its there. (I was not backstage for NL’s Love Kills but I would think that one had a similar feel, but maybe not out of respect so much)
I can usually tell you what kind of show you are going to see if I get a taste of the backstage energy. However, unless I’m working on the show, rarely do I go backstage before I see it.
This show is kinda dark at times, romantic, hard, sharp, quick, sexy, fast, epic, but somewhat funarial…is that a word? Very much like a funeral. We get this story as though its a eulogy, and these Argentinians are going to celebrate her before saying goodbye. So the dressing room is kinda somber at times..everyone is preparing mentally to undergo this ritual for Eva. To give this toast to her. We prep for the celebration and the sadness that we all know comes with a funeral… but i thik they kinda knew it was coming. Maybe. Overall we are all having fun, and I see the same actor fun going on backstage and we’ve been going out after. The same general ritual for every show is there, but this one just has that layer of respectfulness kinda laid on top of everything that happens.
It wasn’t always there, but did become more apparent once the band, set and costumes, and the makeup were added. I remember when we had our dress with the house manager and concessions watching…it made us see it all through there eyes finally (because everyone up to that point in rehearsals, had been in the production process from the beginning). I think our sub base player was there as well. Fresh eyes at that point in the rehearsal process is almost essential for me, but is always good for a cast to have that. I love bringing a few fresh eyes in to watch any show during the final rehearsals. It’s funny that an audience of one can even make a cast work 250% more than normal.
My ritual is easy. I am enjoying the character role for once. I had been very fortnuate in the last several productions I a have done, that I get to play people close to my age. This production and character was a little bit hard for me to get into completely…to “let go” and relax into the role. The music was tough, the character was complex, the relationship was complex, the story was epic, lots of facts to bring into the creative process and it was a sad topic.
I always love dramas because they are a great puzzle. I get to find all the clues that I can to help me find the thruth I see in that character (and in this case a real person in history) and I only get to really explore physically the little snipits of time and moments the playwright gives us to play. The action of a character that the actor brings to the moment tells volumes and the text an actor speaks sometimes tells very little. Roles like Peron allow me (the actor) to dissappear a bit more. I like the character roles I get to play.
I get to wear a mask with this role and become much older. More powerful, and slightly larger than life in a way. He was egotistical, he was eager and he was very passionate. However what i love the most is that Peron really was just a teacher, and I’m a teacher and I see a lot of what went on in their relationship as instruction and pride in what he knew. He loved that he had someone interested in learning about what he did, and also had an interest in doing it as well. An apprentice. I love as a teacher when I get a student who wants to watch me do what i do to learn how to do it. When a student approaches learnin that way they learn faster and they know the whole time they will be doing what they are watching eventually. It makes learning fun when that espectation is there…that light at the end of the tunnel. That knowing…that soon the responsibility will be passed and the student knows that having to prove the skills is right around the corner.
I think the mistress is needed in the story to show that Peron wasn’t just a creepy old guy getting with younger gilrs, he was looking ofr someone to groom. It was about getting someone who shared a vision of the future. He wanted to teach and needed a student. That need for commitment to the lesson he wanted to teach…and until Eva he hadn’t the pupil…I think he was out looking for a pupil…maybe subconsciencely…but non-the-less. Peron up the point had taken all of these jobs that required him to learn, master, and become better than the person before him. He was ready to teach someone else what he had learned how to do.
It was just good timing that she found him…she was in the final stages of adolesence. When she first met him her brain was biologically ready to do that intership. She was like a human sponge. Anyway, those “teaching” moments are so apparent to me in our show and we play them in the show several times. Peron gives her the encouragement and the confidence to trust herself . She gets the pep talks, the cheerleading and the hugs when she comes out of the tests exhausted needing comfort and warmth and assurance it went well. I even believe he was her best critic. I can see her asking for it constantly from him. What she should do to be better. I see that in the second “Dice Are Rolling” conversation. The critic has nothing left to say to help her…he can’t fix what’s broken…so sad for a teacher to realize that student can not learn what needs to be taught. It happens to me with kids who have so many problems in life that they can’t physically get themselves to commit to school or even commit to getting to school. Its sad. You know you could teach them so much more if there wasn;t this road black constantly being placed in front of you.
It is very easy to say they used each other. But don’t we all look for that? Someone who completes you. Fills in those areas that you need someone to fill? That takes work filling in areas. You gave to really care for someone to do that for them. I think that shows they had something more than a barnical relationship.
It is weird that anybody could produce this show without a reverence for Eva. I hear Scott talk about the original Broadway cast and how Evita was pretty much played as a “mega-bitch” but after telling this story from the inside I see so many more fecets to her as a person (It helps that we have info about her from books, and docs to learn what didn;t make into the show…or what came after this story, or waht was in the movie or whatever). She is complex. At times she could be a forceful, aggressive and decisive tank…but taking on the qualities of a stereotypical leader doesn’t make her a bitch…it makes her someone interested in learning how to lead. A leader is a tough postion to take.
This is the “how to” book on becoming a leader of Argentina as a woman in the 1940′s. Nobody was teaching women how to do that kind of job. Being a leader. Being in charge. Confronting the male leadership of that time…in a Latin Amercian culture none-the-less. Women had to learn by jumping in with the sharks. Not too many had the balls (yes I intended that completely sexists pun) to do it. I think she navigated the waters pretty well…not all the time…but she held her own.
So Peron…It took a very warm-hearted man to handle her, challenge the culture, the views of a very elite few, and try to tackle the changes of that gender split society. Peron is very special in that he could (for a shory while) play both sides and keep both sides happy. Of course it can never last. Thats why its makes for a great opera. Peron and Eva were both having cake and eating it too. Lots of it. I kinda imagine Eva sometimes as the cookie monster devoring a cookie. Always kinda knowing that it’ll be short lived…and she would be short lived. So better eat it quick and fast and if some crumbs drop all the better.
Nobody knows what would have happened if she didn’t die.
I think the cast feels the power of Eva. Here they are playing the mourners, the worshipers at the alter of Eva. These incredibly dedicated and completely talented people go out there every night and cry for her in this very ritualistic ceremony. I feel like I’m at church in the beginning. I have always felt that Andrew Loyd Webber composes music with a very churchy feel…more so with Jesus Christ Superstar (obviously) but with this piece as well. There is this feeling to the show that we are returning to the old church plays. Medieval theater where mortality and god, and the paths one chooses take..take them to heaven or the hell mouth. With this production Scott has really left the ending open. We are left to decide (as oppose to the original church dramas that decided for the audience…Bad=your going into the hell mouth) Eva is not easily catergorized as being “bad”. We don’t do that. We make her as real as any person who decides to do somehting brave. There are risks and there are drawbacks. In the end you can;t deny that she does a lot of good. Is it enough? Did she ever have to do any of it? No she put herself out there and put herself on the line and that should be something. Who else can claim such courage and bravery? Not too many.
But she is given a choice by Peron to get out one last time and she refuses it. Some could argue she chose the hell mouth at that time. Right after that refusal to take what they have and get out, she begins to dress up, deal with the money, and play the part of the saint. Ok…that might have been when she started to cross the line a bit..but like a moth to the flame she wanted what she wanted (hello tragic flaw). Part of what she was fighting for was good down to the core. People were suffereing and had been…and very few were holding all the cards.
Ok…that was a mouthful….