BWW Reviews: An Enchanting EVITA at the Engeman

September 24, 2014 2:09 PM

The Engeman Theater has a hit with their vision of Evita.

As Northport’s John W. Engeman Theatre always does, they bring a touch of Broadway to Main Street and their current offering, the Tony winning musical Evita, is certainly no exception. The gorgeous Long Island venue executes an enchanting incarnation – running through November 1st – of the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber classic superbly directed by Igor Goldin.

The tale focuses on the life of Argentine force-to-be-reckoned-with Eva Perón centering on her rise through the political ladder to her untimely death. Exquisitely portraying Eva is Janine Divita (Broadway: Grease, Anything Goes, et. al.). The story shows Eva over a period of eighteen years; from when she was fifteen until her death at age thirty three. I really could go on and on about her stunning voice, gripping speeches to her “public”, and wonderful stage presence, but I’m just going to say that you will remember Ms. Divita’s Eva for quite some time. Eva meets and marries Colonel Juan Perón portrayed strongly by Bruce Winant (Broadway: La Cage Aux Falls, Phantom of the Opera, et. al). Ms. Divita and Mr. Winant’s voices complemented each other well and were believable as a married couple.

Additional highlights of the stellar cast include Aaron C. Finley (Broadway: Rock of Ages, Allegiance) and Ashley Perez Flanagan. Mr. Finley, as Che, serves as the show’s narrator and the packed audience gives a rousing round of applause to the extremely talented and handsome young actor. His performances of “Oh What a Circus” and “High Flying, Adored”, the latter of which he sings with Ms. Divita, is particularly well received. And you will be mesmerized by Ms. Flanagan, who portrays the Mistress, as her voice soars on her emotional performance of “Another Suitcase in the Hall”.

Besides the magnificent cast, you will become captivated by some of the most beautiful music that was created by Mr. Rice and Mr. Lloyd Webber. To be included with the aforementioned songs, Ms. Divita gives an outstanding rendition of the iconic “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” and the entire company is powerful on “Montage” at the end of Act Two. This music is spectacularly performed with the accompaniment of the live orchestra headed up by Musical Director James Olmstead. Additionally, Daniel Willis’ set is fantastically highlighted by Zach Blane‘s lighting, and Craig Kaufman’s sound design. Kurt Alger’s costumes are also top notch – particularly Eva’s “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” wedding gown inspired dress.

And so, it is quite clear that Northport’s John W. Engeman Theatre has a hit with their vision of Evita. An inspired cast, beautiful music, and the stunning John W. Engeman Theater make for a delightful night of theatre.

Evita is presented by the John W. Engeman Theatre of Northport, Long Island, through November 2nd. By Tim Rice (Lyrics) & Adrew Lloyd Webber (Music), Directed by Igor Goldin, Scenic Design by Daniel Willis, Costume & Wig Design by Kurt Alger, Lighting Design by Zach Blane, Sound Design by Craig Kaufman, Assistant Direction and Fight Chorography by Trey Compton, Chorography by Antoniette DiPietropolo, Musical Direction by James Olmstead. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Village Tattler: Evita Awaits You at Northport’s Engeman Theater

Janine Divita as Eva Peron in the musical production of Evita at John W. Engeman Theater. Photo by Michael DeCristofaro.

This production is a true example of Broadway on Main Street and a must-see for theater lovers of all ages.

The hauntingly beautiful musical production of Evita now awaits you at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater. A packed opening night drew standing ovations for Janine Divita who plays Eva Perón, Bruce Winant who plays her husband and president of Argentina Juan Perón, and the magnetic Aaron C. Finley who plays Che. Evita is considered one of the most passionate and colorful musicals in theater history and Engeman’s production does not disappoint. The cast is so talented, with multiple Broadway credits, and this production is a true example of Broadway on Main Street and a must-see for theater lovers of all ages. Performances will run through November 2, 2014, on Thursdays at 8:00 pm, Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm.

Some of the most beautiful songs in theater are in Evita, including the most well-known “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” here sung by the incredibly talented Janine Divita as Eva Perón. Divita is simply divine as Eva Perón, playing the powerful First Lady of Argentina who was adored by the people but became a tragic figure of greed and ambition and then, poor health–she died from cancer at age 33 (just 8 years after meeting Juan Perón). Perón at the time of their meeting is an ambitious military colonel who makes his way up the Argentine political ladder. Other songs of note are “Another Suitcase in Another Hall,” sung by Juan Perón’s mistress who is played by the beautiful and talented Ashley Perez Flanagan, and “High Flying, Adored,” sung by Aaron Finely as Che and Divita as Eva. There is an eclectic range of music in the show with a combination of ballads such as “Another Suitcase” and “High Flying” and more Latin-influenced songs such as “Buenos Aires,” “And the Money Kept Rolling in (And Out),” and “On This Night of a Thousand Stars” sung by Ruben Flores as Magaldi and moving on to more rock opera songs, such as “Oh, What a Circus” and “Perón’s Latest Flame,” both performed by Finley as Che along with the ensemble.

With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, Evita is produced by Richard T. Dolce, Engeman’s producing article director and features Janine Divita (Eva Perón); Aaron C. Finley (Che); Bruce Winant (Juan Perón); Ashley Perez Flanagan (Mistress); and Ruben Flores (Magaldi).

The story of Evita starts with Eva’s beginnings in the slums of Argentina (and her various lovers), told by a cynical Che who narrates the story. In “Oh What a Circus,” Che tells the story of the hysterical grief that gripped Argentina when Evita died. The story moves through Eva’s meeting with Juan Perón, “I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You.” This is followed by Eva tossing out Juan Perón’s mistress, throwing her clothes out the French doors while at the same time feeling sorry for her and giving her a fur coat, a true example of the character of Eva. Ashley Perez Flanagan as the Mistress sings a beautiful “Another Suitcase in Another Hall.”

We see Eva’s rise as a political leader in Argentina who is adored by the poor people, but is disregarded by the upper classes and the Argentine Army  (“Perón’s Latest Flame”). Perón is elected President in a sweeping victory in 1946, just two years after meeting Eva. Eva begins the Eva Perón Foundation to direct her charity work. Che narrates again the controversial charitable work, and possible money laundering in “And the Money Kept Rolling In (And Out).” Notes Che,”And little has changed for us peasants down here.”

Eva is determined to run for vice president despite her failing health (“Dice Are Rolling”) but has to renounce when she realizes that she is dying. She swears her eternal love to the people of Argentina in “Eva’s Final Broadcast.”

Janine Divita as Eva Perón and Aaron C. Finley as Che in Evita. Photo by Michael DeCristofaro.

Credits of this talented cast include: JANINE DIVITA (Eva) Broadway: GREASE, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, ANYTHING GOES; AARON C. FINLEY (Che) Broadway: ROCK OF AGES; BRUCE WINANT (Perón) Broadway: LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, CHICAGO, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, RAGTIME, MISS SAIGON, MY FAVORITE YEAR; RUBEN FLORES (Magaldi) Broadway: IN THE HEIGHTS; ASHLEY PEREZ FLANAGAN (The Mistress) started at The Engeman Theater as a hostess when she was in high school and went on to perform on stage in The Engeman production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC in 2010. She has since gone on to a successful career as a performer being featured in Diane Paulus’s production of PROMETHEUS UNBOUND (A.R.T.) and ONCE ON THIS ISLAND (Enlightened Theatrics). Ashley is the daughter of NYS Senator John Flanagan.

The cast also includes JUSTIN GREGORY LOPEZ, RYAN RHUE, GILBERT SANCHEZ, LARRY LOZIER JR., PAUL VELUTIS, MEGAN KOUMIS, ERIKA PETERSON, HALLIE SILVERSTON and EMILY ESPOSITO.

The Creative Team for EVITA is IGOR GOLDIN (Director) Engeman Theater: THE MUSIC MAN, TWELVE ANGRY MEN, SOUTH PACIFIC; Off-Broadway: YANK! (Drama Desk Award), WITH GLEE and NYMTF winner of Award for Excellence in Direction for CROSSING SWORDS, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and COMMON GROUNDS; ANTOINETTE DIPIETROPOLO (Choreographer) Engeman Theater: THE MUSIC MAN, NUNSENSE, SOUTH PACIFIC, HAIRSPRAY; Off-Broadway: WITH GLEE; National Tours: HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS; JAMES OLMSTEAD (Musical Director) Engeman Theater: THE MUSIC MAN, WHITE CHRISTMAS, SOUTH PACIFIC.

The Design Team is DANIEL WILLIS (Scenic Design), KURT ALGER (Costume and Wig Design), ZACH BLANE (Lighting Design), CRAIG KAUFMAN (Sound Design), MEAGAN MILLER-McKEEVER (Props Design), MICHAEL CASSARA (Casting Director), TREY COMPTON (Assistant Director).

Tickets are $69 and available by calling (631) 261-2900, visiting www.engemantheater.com, or stopping at the Engeman Theater Box Office, 250 Main Street, Northport.

Smithtown Matters: Theater Review – ‘EVITA’

Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 1:29AM

Theater Review “Evita

Produced by: The John W. Engeman Theater – Northport

Reviewed by: Jeb Ladouceur

 

It must have been a formidable challenge for Janine Divita to accept the title role in “Evita” at the Engeman Theater this fall. We make the observation, not because the Broadway-seasoned Ms. Divita is in any way unequal to the huge task (she’s more than capable) but for the simple reason that in Northport, of all places, anyone cast in the lead of this renowned show is bound to be compared to the proud old town’s favorite daughter, Patti LuPone.

With the possible exception of writer Jack Kerouac, it’s widely acknowledged that no other Northport celebrity involved in The Arts has garnered the international acclaim that Ms. LuPone has. And most of that recognition has accrued to the singer/actress because of her Tony Award winning work in the 1978 Broadway production of “Evita.” There, the musical ran for nearly four years—37th longest in history. Remarkably, it was nominated for 22 of theatre’s most prestigious awards (consider that the hugely successful “Hello Dolly” received only 13 such nominations). To put matters in further perspective, “Evita” gained no fewer than 11 Tony Award nods and won 7 of them; (decades earlier “My Fair Lady” won 6 of 10).

“Evita” is both inspiring and tragic in that it tells of Eva Peron’s unlikely rise from an Argentine slum, where she is the child of a single mother—to her career as an ambitious actress—and ultimately to her securing a place in the nation’s seat of power, the Presidential Palace. There, the once destitute girl who has become Argentina’s First Lady, wins the adoration of her people by displaying concern for the poor and disadvantaged, despite her own failing health. Eva’s inability to control her greed and ambition, however, lends an overriding element of Greek tragedy to the play, which nonetheless manages to work as a thoroughly absorbing, lyrical musical.

The multi-talented Ms. Divita is in good company among a cast of proven professionals, primarily in the person of ‘Che’ who serves effectively as the story’s narrator and pace-setter. Bruce Winant, playing Juan Peron, is the most widely traveled performer in the company, and his experience is evident. Winant is as silky-smooth as we expect the slick Argentine leader to be, and we get the impression that his very presence on stage is largely responsible for elevating the performances of his fellow actors.

Prominent among those accomplished players is Ruben Flores (Migaldi), whom many will recognize from ‘Law and Order’ though that is by no means chief among his many performing credits. They run the gamut from Shakespeare to “Beauty and the Beast” and attest to Flores’s obvious versatility. The inclusion of lovely Ashley Perez Flanagan, who plays Juan Peron’s mistress marvelously, should be an inspiration to all aspiring thespians who see her at the Engeman over the next six weeks. Ashley started her career as a hostess at JWE and has gone on to distinguish herself in more than a half dozen productions to date.

Credit director Igor Goldin for flawlessly guiding his charges in this musical which Patti LuPone claimed was the most unbearable experience of her theatrical life, stating that “The play was obviously written by a man who hates women. I screamed my way through the role of Eva Peron.” That said, Janine Divita and company give no hint of such distress. Indeed, everyone in this lush production contributes to another Engeman blockbuster that takes the often explosive Ms. LuPone’s early stomping grounds by storm.

The John W. Engeman Theater presents EVITA

NORTHPORT, NY….The John W. Engeman Theater is proud to present EVITA, one of the most passionate and colorful musicals in theater history. Performances begin on September 18th at 8:00 pm and run through November 2nd.

 

For decades, theater-lovers have thrilled to the story of EVITA, which recounts Eva Peron’s meteoric rise from the slums of Argentina to the presidential mansion as First Lady. Adored by her people as a champion for the poor, she became one of the most powerful women in the world—while her greed, outsized ambition and fragile health made her one of the most tragic. EVITA tells Eva’s passionate and unforgettable true story and features some of theater’s most beautiful songs, including “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” “Another Suitcase in Another Hall,” And “High Flying, Adored.”

 

EVITA is produced by RICHARD T. DOLCE, The Engeman Theater’s Producing Artistic Director.

 

The cast of EVITA features: JANINE DIVITA (Eva) Broadway: GREASE, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, ANYTHING GOES; AARON C. FINLEY (Che) Broadway: ROCK OF AGES; BRUCE WINANT (Peron) Broadway: LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, CHICAGO, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, RAGTIME, MISS SAIGON, MY FAVORITE YEAR; RUBEN FLORES (Migaldi) Broadway: IN THE HEIGHTS; ASHLEY PEREZ FLANAGAN (TheMistress) started at The Engeman Theater as a hostess when she was in high school and went on to perform on stage in The Engeman production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC in 2010. She has since gone on to a successful career as a performer being featured in Diane Paulus’s production of PROMETHEUS UNBOUND (A.R.T.) and ONCE ON THIS ISLAND (Enlightened Theatrics). Ashley is the daughter of NYS Senator John Flanagan.

 

The cast also includes JUSTIN GREGORY LOPEZ, RYAN RHUE, GILBERT SANCHEZ, LARRY LOZIER JR., PAUL VELUTIS, MEGAN KOUMIS, ERIKA PETERSON, HALLIE SILVERSTON and EMILY ESPOSITO

 

The Creative Team for EVITA is IGOR GOLDIN (Director) Engeman Theater: THE MUSIC MAN, TWELVE ANGRY MEN, SOUTH PACIFIC; Off-Broadway: YANK! (Drama Desk Award), WITH GLEE and NYMTF winner of Award for Excellence in Direction for CROSSING SWORDS, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and COMMON GROUNDS; ANTOINETTE DIPIETROPOLO (Choreographer) Engeman Theater: THE MUSIC MAN, NUNSENSE, SOUTH PACIFIC, HAIRSPRAY; Off-Broadway: WITH GLEE; National Tours: HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS; JAMES OLMSTEAD (Musical Director) Engeman Theater: THE MUSIC MAN, WHITE CHRISTMAS, SOUTH PACIFIC.

The Design Team is DANIEL WILLIS (Scenic Design), KURT ALGER (Costume and Wig Design), ZACH BLANE (Lighting Design), CRAIG KAUFMAN (Sound Design), MEAGAN MILLER-McKEEVER (Props Design), MICHAEL CASSARA (Casting Director), TREY COMPTON (Assistant Director).

 

PRESS OPENING is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2014 at 8:00pm

 

EVITA will play the following performance schedule: Thursdays at 8:00 pm; Fridays at 8:00 pm; Saturdays at 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm; and Sundays at 2:00 pm.

 

Tickets are ON SALE and are $69. Tickets may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, by visiting www.engemantheater.com, or at the Engeman Theater Box Office, at 250 Main Street, Northport. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted.

 

ABOUT THE JOHN W. ENGEMAN THEATER: The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport is Long Island’s only year-round professional theater company, casting its actors from the Broadway talent pool. From curb to curtain, the Theater provides affordable, high-quality theater in a uniquely elegant location dedicated to an unforgettable theatrical experience. The renovated Theater offers stadium-style seating, state-of-the-art lighting and sound, a full orchestra pit, and a classic wood-paneled piano lounge with full bar.

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