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Volume 24, Number 10 — November 2017

There's Nothing Small about Barter's 'Evita'


"Evita," currently on stage at Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va., is an elaborate production with acting, music, costumes and scenery to match. "But it is Peter Yonka, as Ch? Guevera, who really shines ? such a wonderful singing voice," said reviewer Robert McKinney.

By Robert McKinney| Special to the Herald Courier | June 27, 2008

*** This review was published Thursday, June 19, 2008 in the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier. ***

ABINGDON, Va. ? Barter Theatre's big musical of the season is "Evita." Tim Rice's and Andrew Lloyd Webber's spectacular story is about the rise and fall of Eva Duarte Per?n, the Argentine actress who purveyed her sexuality and charisma into near-sainthood between 1945 and her death in 1952.

Webber's music can only be described as overwhelming, and Rice's lyrics capture the story so well that few words of spoken dialogue are necessary. Although the play relies upon a simplistic and somewhat sanitized version of Per?n's life, it captures the essence of what she was and did, how the poor of Argentina at first embraced her, but then became disillusioned, and how the Argentine elite and military establishment both hated and feared her.

Hannah Ingram, a Barter newcomer, has the role of Evita, which in Spanish, is affectionately "Little Eva." She is wonderful in the part and has both the looks and voice to bring Per?n to vibrant life. Mike Ostroski plays Juan Per?n with the usual professionalism. Sean Campos is the Buenos Aires singer and tango dancer Augustin Magaldi. But it is Peter Yonka, as Ch? Guevera, who really shines ? such a wonderful singing voice!

Gwen Edwards, the fine Barter actor who normally plays the "mousey" roles also really shines here as Juan Per?n's mistress who Eva gives the boot. Her rendition of "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" made me want to leap up, stop the show and have her sing it over and over. In a show full of marvelous songs and performances, her's was that good.

There's a full cast of virtually all the Barter regulars in numerous roles and, of course, the lighting, sound, stage management, costumes and all the rest are flawless as is to be expected. Evalyn Baron directs.

If there is, however, a single moment in the play when you could have heard a pin drop in the audience, it is during "Santa Evita" sung by a children's choir backed up by a workers' chorus.

The chorus includes Aria Binkley, a straight-A fourth-grader from Johnson City; the unforgettable Rachel Boyd, a seasoned Barter veteran and Abingdon native; Cassandra Brooks, also from Johnson City who has performed at both the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre and the Johnson City Community Theatre; Annie Carr, a rising ninth-grader at Sullivan Central High School who enjoys reading, sewing and spending time with her friends; new-comer Nicholas Doggett, who at age 12, is very involved in music, dance and acting; Adam Gambrel who is a member of the East Tennessee Children's Choir; Clara Gambrel performed with her brother in this past season's "Christmas Carol" and is a fine piano player; Gretchen Gross, who loves music and performing; Rachel Locke, a third-grader who has performed with Theatre Bristol; Laura Masters of Bristol, Tenn., who is a sophomore at Tennessee High; Maria Masters, who is 11 years old and active in both chorus and band at Haynesfield Elementary School in Bristol; and Bronwyn Redvers-Lee, a rising fifth-grader from Emory who plays piano and soccer and is a member of the East Tennessee Children's Choir.

They still talk about Evita in Buenos Aires and on the pampas. Among the poor, she is spoken of in hushed, reverential tones as a near-saint to this day. Among the landed classes, she is also sometimes mentioned, but the tones are not hushed, and the opinions of her are anything but reverential.

"Evita" continues through Aug. 9. For dates, times and reservations: (276) 628-3991 or http://www.bartertheatre.com.

A! ExtraTopics: Theatre