In a way, Patti Lupone will always be Evita to me, but what a thrill it must have been for Argentinian actress Elena Roger (Piaf) to be cast in 2006 in the West End revival of the iconic Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical - a native daughter playing her country's greatest heroine.
Your humble correspondent, sadly based in this backwater burg of New York City, didn't get to London that year (funny how that seems to happen a lot). But in March 2012 the revival is coming to Broadway, with Ms. Roger, in her Broadway debut, reprising the role of Eva Perón, opposite pop star Ricky Martin as Ché.
Martin may be best known for his recording career, but his appearance in Evita isn't just a case of stunt casting - he actually has more Broadway experience than his co-star, having appeared in Les Misérables in the 1990s. The new production, with Donmar Warehouse's Michael Grandage and Rob Ashford directing and choreographing respectively, bears all the signs of a hit.
TV, film, and pop stars have lit a fire under the New York boards in the last few years, helping boost Broadway to its highest grossing season in history. (Of course, swollen ticket prices played their part too.) Green Day's Billy Joe gave American Idiot a boost when he joined its cast. Sean Hayes arguably did more than Kristin Chenoweth to make Promises, Promises a success. Daniel Radcliffe, though overlooked at the Tonys, turned in an able performance in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and made that revival sparkle. The list goes on.
Most important, the new Evita will make me happy. I've been pining for a Broadway revival of this unique, difficult musical for years - decades, actually. Here's hoping the new Evita is as good as I want it to be - a glamorous new night of a thousand stars.
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