Fredericton’s Blind Faith Productions presented the Andrew Lloyd Webber cult musical Evita at the Fredericton Playhouse from Aug. 18 to 21. The Sunday, Aug. 21, matinée was close to a full house and the public was impressed with the show.
Company founder and artistic producer Shawn Henry directed the performance. Henry is a well-known figure in the local arts community where he is involved in chorales, musical theatre, theatre as well as film.
A complete onstage cast of 25 singer-actors of all ages carried out the action, including intricate dance routines. The entire cast and crew can be lauded for carrying off successfully such an elaborately choreographed show that was true to the time period. Kudos to Courtney Arsenault, a choreographer and dancer, who recently joined the Blind Faith creative team, for some complex dancing onstage, including tango, salsa and waltzes.
The show featured an 18-piece band conducted by Rachel O’Brien, a fourth year Mount Allison University music student, and included some very talented local musicians such as Vitta Morales (of local band Eric of Many Hats, now studying music at McGill University) and Jason Flores (of the band Before The War, among other musical projects).
Evita follows the rise to fame of the young Eva Duarte and her impressive life as wife of Argentine president Juan Perón, until her untimely death at the age of 32. She was an important personality in Argentine history and a celebrity recognized throughout the world. STU graduate Katelyn Goodwin had the stage presence to navigate playing the central character (and her numerous costume changes) and her voice was solid.
Che Guevara, the Latin American revolutionary, narrates the show. In real life, Eva Perón had had only limited contact with Che, but Lloyd Webber included him using much creative license. UNB student Alexander Landine was strong in this key role that required his presence and voice throughout.
Three other talented singers rounded out the central cast. Ryan Tapley was superb as Juan Perón, to whom he (coincidentally?) holds a striking resemblance. Olivia LaPointe shone as Perón’s mistress, especially in her semi-solo piece. Finally, Colin Hood was very convincing as a seasoned tango singer in the opening scenes.
A series started in 2014, Blind Faith’s second summer musical was the intricate Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 2015. Fredericton audiences can only hope for another quality entertaining show next year.