Tony Awards, 1980, Evita

17 Apr


Well, 1980 was the year that Andrew Lloyd Weber broke open the door and claimed the rest of the decade for himself.   What surprised me about Evita was how close to Jesus Christ Superstar it was.   I always looked at Jesus Christ Superstar as an anomaly–after all, it’s the only one where Andrew Lloyd Weber really rocks, it’s the only one that has raw emotions, it’s the only one that even approaches edginess.   However, if you listen to the two back to back, you’ve got a lot in common, more in common than Evita and any of his works afterwords.

In a way this makes sense.   Weber has always been fascinated by the martyr figure, and while Jesus was certainly the world’s best known martyr, Weber couldn’t really go all out there in terms of him as a public personality, because he had to be sensitive about people’s religious beliefs (and even then, I might add, people still got offended by it.)   Evita, by comparison, is a much safer bet.   She was someone who was loved by the public, but also someone who wasn’t exactly a sanctimonious figure,  nobody claimed that she was entirely pure of heart.   And there’s a couple of interesting things that Weber brings out about these cults of personality–they almost have nothing to do with whatever the person stands for, or is actually doing.

Patti Lupone really knocked this out of the park, because believe me, if you’ve got a weak Evita, the rest of this show just goes straight down the drain no matter how good everyone else is.   The music is–sorta ok I guess.  It’s extremely repetitive, and while Jesus Christ Superstar certainly had its repeating themes, the ones here are much simpler.  However they vary it enough so that it doesn’t make your ears bleed or anything.   Also, this marks the transition of Andrew Lloyd Weber from shows that are about something, to shows that are largely pageantry.   Here the pageantry is largely part of the story, so it’s forgivable I guess, but later–oooooh later, style would definitely trump substance in every single manner.

Oh well, the only other show that year that came close was the unfairly forgotten Barnum.  Nobody really denies Evita its win.

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