Fiorella and Husband gussied up last night and took Fio's brother and his wife to dinner and the local theater. The Palace's production of Evita had garnered rave newspaper reviews so Fio was looking forward to being wowed from the outset.
She wasn't, but she hung on gamely, thinking maybe she was subconsciously comparing this Evita to the one she'd seen a road company perform in UT's Bass Hall years ago. Or maybe she'd just been expecting too much because of the over-the-top reviews.
But, no. The singers were great, especially Kirk Miller as Juan Peron, Steve Williams as Che Guevara, and Ann Pittman as Evita, although she couldn't quite reach the sexy lower pitches. The ensembles were fantastic. The opening of the second act was mesmerizing.
That being said, the cast was too small, "small" being the operative word. This is small town and the actor/singer pool is small so cast members were easily recognized as their previous characters when they moved from part to part, which got annoying. Also the Palace stage is small, which necessitated several distracting methods of changing it around for different scenes. One thing that wasn't "small" was the volume of the stage mikes, which irritated more than Fio, judging by the comments she heard in the women's restroom.
The direction was also problematical. The cast members often stood around looking awkward, and there were too many detracting conversation groups, when what the heavily-stylized Evita needs is frozen tableaus. The dance sequences were hum-drum, with lots of circle dances, odd little hops, and throwing of hands up into the air. Fio misses former choreographer Jessica Kelpsch and her crackerjack routines.
The SRO audience reacted with polite applause after the big numbers and a perfunctory standing ovation at the end of the show, but Evita was not a wowzer. It was just too big a production for so small a theater.