This is a part of The Stage to Screen Blogathon, hosted by The Rosebud Cinema and Rachel’s Theater Reviews . For more great reviews of theater production adaptations for the screen, be sure to visit their pages!
Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Movie: Directed by Alan Parker
I was introduced to Evita by my parents. We listened to the Original Broadway Cast Recording over, and over, and over again. Cassette tapes in the car, records on the record player in the house. Before we realized that the lyrics were already printed in the album, my brother and I took it upon ourselves to type up the lyrics (this is part of why I have a fast typing speed).
Evita, as sung by Patti LuPone, and Mandy Patinkin’s interpretation of Che, were the only ones I knew. Having discovered the lyrics-book that accompanied the record, I had read it and memorized it, envisioning just how the staging should look. When a touring cast came through our city my parents took me and my brother to see it – I remember the shock I felt at different voices in these roles, and some changes that had been made to the songs, and (of course) that the staging was not what I had imagined.
So when the movie came out… I had my hesitations and my hopes. Talking to my mom (who told me Evita was the only show she went to see twice on the stage), she had similar concerns. Madonna could sing, but would she be able to play the part well? And what about Antonio Banderas, could he fill this role?
I enjoyed the film, and found it to be well done (Mom was pleasantly surprised as well). There were, of course, some pieces that I missed, missing lines that I still expect to hear. However, over time many of the changes have become less challenging for me – in my most recent viewing of the movie I went in knowing that there were lyric changes that had originally chaffed, but now I had to really focus to find them. As the movie-version of the songs have become more normal, had time to sit with me, and as I have learned to hear Banderas and Madonna in the roles (as well as LuPone and Patinkin) there is far less about the movie that jars me.
There were some very nicely done elements as well. The juxtaposition of the funeral of Eva’s father in the opening scenes, for instance, gives a nice glimpse into her life, a touch to her roots and life, as well as the will and determination that is a core of her personality. And (as with Rent) there is the opportunity for some more subtle story-telling elements to play, facial expressions and quiet exchanges that build a depth to the characters and the story.
There are even a few elements of the movie that I think are spot-on. That, when I saw a recent touring performance this fall, actually surprised me to be relocated back to their original location. In particular I am thinking of “Another Suitcase in Another Hall.” Traditionally this song belongs to Peron’s mistress, but the movie gave her just a reprise of it, the full song going to Evita after she arrives in Buenos Ares. I think it fits her at that moment of life, allows the character to show some vulnerability, and bleeds very well into “Goodnight and Thank You.”
If I have to select one soundtrack to listen to for Evita, it’s always going to be the Original Broadway Cast (because… Mandy Patinkin), but I enjoy watching the movie just as much.