“Evita”- the Musical
Evita is a biographical musical of the life of Eva Perón by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Eva was a beloved, if controversial, figure in Argentina’s political history and remains a powerful icon of charity, fashion, and ambition for both her home country and the world. The musical’s title is the Spanish term of endearment meaning “little Eva.”
Eva Duarte was born into a poor family in Argentina. Her father abandoned Eva and her mother at an early age. Eva pursued a singing career at age 15 and found some success once she moved to Buenos Aires. It was there that she met Juan Perón. The two married and began the dual political careers that would lead to Perón’s presidency and Eva’s becoming Evita; a near saint-like figure in the hearts of the poor and disenfranchised Argentinian people. Eva’s story is a classic rags-to-riches tale in which scandal and corruption mingled with a life of charity and an extreme public persona. Eva died in her early thirties from cervical cancer. She was heavily mourned and remains a sanctified figure in Argentina to this day.
Evita is narrated by Che, a character based on the historical and controversial figure Che Guevara. Che and Eva Perón likely never met and their philosophies on how to help the poor were diametrically opposed. Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice wrote Che in as the narrator to provide a tension and opposition in contrast with the overwhelming love most Argentinians felt for Eva Perón.
Act I Synopsis/Songs
Requiem – The chorus comes out singing a funeral dirge for Eva Perón.
Oh What a Circus – Che, the narrator, sings about his frustration with the people of Argentina for mourning Eva. He sees her funeral as a circus and Eva as undeserving of all the pomp and circumstance of a state funeral.
On This Night of a Thousand Stars – Magaldi, a moderately well-known night club singer, meets 15-year-old Eva Duarte. The two begin a love affair.
Eva, Beware of the City – Eva is determined to move to Buenos Aires to find fame and fortune. Magaldi is unhappy about the move.
Buenos Aires – Eva has made it to Buenos Aires and is finding her way through the big city. She faces some hardships but also finds she likes the hustle and bustle.
Goodnight and Thank You – Eva works her way up within the nightclub scene and breaks into radio. She uses allure and affairs to achieve this success. In this song, she says thank you and goodbye to the many lovers who have helped her along her way.
The Lady’s Got Potential – Eva is working her way up from radio to roles in movies. It is a time of political unrest and the people of Argentina are looking for change in their country. The military is gaining strength and at the head of the military is one Juan Perón.
Charity Concert – The night of the charity concert is where Juan Perón and Eva Duarte first meet.
I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You – Eva seduces Juan Perón and convinces him that they would make a powerful couple who could take on the country’s problems and provide a powerful image to the world. Juan responds that he’d be good for Eva too. His status could rocket her to real fame and fortune. The two decide to join forces.
Another Suitcase in Another Hall – This song is sung by Perón’s Mistress. She is calling Eva out as just another one of Juan Perón’s dalliances. The Mistress says that Eva will be gone before long and Perón will move on to the next “suitcase” soon.
Perón’s Latest Flame – The upper class and bourgeois sing their criticism of the Eva and Juan Perón match. They call her a whore, bitch, and attention-seeker and criticize him for being taken in by a lowly actress.
A New Argentina – With the worker’s unions backing Perón’s bid for presidency Eva pushes and campaigns for her new husband. They win.
Act II Synopsis/Songs
On the Balcony of the Casa Rosada – Juan Perón addresses Argentina’s masses in his new role as president.
Don’t Cry for Me Argentina – Eva, now Eva Perón, addresses the Argentinian masses in her new role as first lady. She begs them to remember her as she was and accept her as she is now. Eva promises that she is still the same girl who fought for their causes and that she will continue to champion them even as she is designer dressed in Dior and associating with the upper classes. This is the song in which the performer strikes what has become the iconic Evita pose—strong arms uplifted in a U or a V-shape with palms flat and open.
High Flying Adored – Eva is enjoying life and all the perks of being the first lady.
Rainbow High – Eva is getting dressed and ready to present Argentina in style to the world.
Rainbow Tour – Eva embarks on a tour of the the most world’s powerful nations. She is beginning to slow down and feel ill, but does her best to power through. She returns home furious after being snubbed by the British monarchy and without a Papal Declaration from the Pope.
The Chorus Girl Hasn’t Learned – Eva rails against the upper classes and military who still criticize her for her lowly beginnings. She refuses to fit the mold and argues she will continue to champion the causes she chooses.
And The Money Kept Rolling In – Eva introduces her charity, the Eva Perón Foundation, and pours her time, ambition, and money into it. The Foundation is wildly successful and beneficial to many, but there is a question as to where the money comes from and where much of it ends up.
Santa Evita – The ensemble sings tribute to Eva and her generous works.
Waltz For Eva and Che – Eva and Che champion their views on helping the poor and disenfranchised. Che argues that the people must work from the bottom up and Eva argues for working from the top down within the current system. Halfway through the song, Eva begins to feel her illness and becomes frustrated that such a passionate heart as hers is stuck inside a failing body and “what she wouldn’t give for a hundred years.”
You Must Love Me – Eva sings “You Must Love Me” from her sick bed. The question is, is this song sung for Perón or Argentina or both?
She is a Diamond – Perón talks about Eva as a diamond. She is a champion of the people, tough, and “not a bauble to be put aside.”
Dice are Rolling – Eva wants to be made vice president, but Perón points out that she is sick and dying. If she fights this fight to be vice president, it could be the last thing she ever does.
Eva’s Final Broadcast – Eva, very sick and near death, makes one final broadcast to her people of Argentina. She reprises the song “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” before walking away from the balcony of the Casa Rosada.
Lament – The people are mourning in a reprise of the opening “Requiem.” Che begs them to consider Eva in a different light and that they should not mourn her as they are doing. Ultimately, his view of her is called into question in his own mind as he finds he actually misses her too.
Time: 1934 – 1952
Cast Size: This play can accommodate 5 main singing roles plus a strong chorus/ensemble.
Male Characters: 3
Female Characters: 2
Che is based on the historical and controversial figure of Che Guevara. He provides an antagonistic view of Eva’s life for the audience. He doesn’t believe Eva is a saint or even saint-like at all.
Eva is Evita, the ambitious and stylish actress who worked her way from obscurity up to being the first lady of Argentina. She is a figure still revered to this day for her leadership and charity. Whether her heart truly belonged to the disenfranchised and poor of Argentina or if it was just another ploy for fame and fortune remains debatable.
Perón is Juan Perón, former president of Argentina and military leader. His marriage to Eva was a union that was beneficial for both partners.
Magaldi was one of Eva Duarte’s first love affairs. It is said that she used him to propel her career further and to get her to Buenos Aires. He was a popular nightclub performer.
Mistress is Juan Perón’s final mistress before he meets and marries Eva.
The set must be able to accommodate a variety of locations from the streets of a poor area of Argentina, to various nightclubs, to the bustling city of Buenos Aries, to the balcony of the mansion Casa Rosada. Time moves fluidly from one song to the next and set changes must be minimal or simply suggestive of a different location.
Costumes do not all need to be elaborate. Most of the cast may be in one costume for the duration of the show with one exception. Eva Perón, was well known for her fashion. In the first act she appears in drab unremarkable clothing but after her marriage to Perón she is costumed in high fashion. Her hair is meticulously done and theaters often opt for a high quality wig for the actress playing Eva.
Content Issues: Language, sexual innuendo
Notable women to have played the role of Evita are Patti LuPone, Julie Covington, Elaine Paige, and Madonna.
Although the production has only 5 roles for individual singers, its chorus requires strong singers and dancers. The chorus is featured in nearly every song and plays the important part of the people of Argentina, the people who made Evita famous and keep her memory alive.
In 1996 Evita was made into a movie starring Antonio Banderas as Che and Madonna as Evita. Madonna’s performance of “You Must Love Me” won an Academy Award.
Rodgers and Hammerstein holds the production rights for the musical Evita.