Various Artists

Evita [Original Broadway Cast]

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Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita, which began as a concept album in 1976 and had its first stage incarnation in London in 1978, finally came to the U.S. in 1979 with a production that opened in Los Angeles and moved to San Francisco for multi-week engagements before landing on Broadway on September 25 to begin a Tony-winning, 1,568-performance run. The London production had been represented by a one-disc highlights album, but this one became the second full-length treatment, running, like the concept album, 100 minutes. As such, the revisions made for the stage were more apparent, especially because there were more of them than there had been in London, sometimes to Americanize the language. ("The back of beyond" in "Eva and Magaldi" became "the sticks," while "Get stuffed!" in "Goodnight and Thank You" was now "Up yours!") "The Lady's Got Potential" had been deleted, and there was a new song, "The Art of the Possible," which, with its musical-chairs staging, was more effective in the theater than on record. And "Dangerous Jade" had been revised to become "Peron's Latest Flame." Many of the changes built up the role of Evita's critic, Che. As played by Mandy Patinkin, who achieved Broadway stardom in the role, Che now rivaled Evita as a musical presence, the actor's elastic tenor and bravura manner drawing more attention to him. But Patti Lu Pone also became a star here, fearlessly bringing out Evita's strident self-interest without attempting to gain the audience's sympathy. (You couldn't say that about London's Elaine Paige.) Lu Pone was at her best when Evita was at her worst, such as in the songs "A New Argentina" and "Rainbow High." The rest of the cast was unexceptional, though Bob Gunton's Juan Peron inspired curiosity as the only actor to use a Spanish accent.

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