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Blond ambition

National ‘Evita’ touring production sturdy, serviceable

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theater, gay news, Washington Blade
theater, gay news, Washington Blade

Caroline Bowman in ‘Evita.’ (Photo by Richard Termine; courtesy Kennedy Center)

‘Evita’

 

Through Oct. 19

 

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

 

2700 F St. NW

 

$39-125

 

202-467-4600

 

Kennedy-center.org

 

Since its London world premiere in 1978 and subsequent global success, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Evita” has been produced ad infinitum.

And whether it’s Broadway’s Patti LuPone or Madonna on the big screen, the woman in the title role ultimately determines each version’s success. Playing Argentina’s controversial first lady who slept her way to power and position and died young isn’t easy — the part is vocally challenging and requires more than a modicum of charisma.

In the national tour of the 2012 Broadway revival now at the Kennedy Center Opera House, Caroline Bowman takes on the part. As the young Eva Duarte, Bowman misses the grit and energy of the provincial teenage dancehall girl — she might as well be playing the naïve ingénue in a comedy of manners. But it’s her turn as the slightly older and blonder Eva in which Bowman excels, skillfully conveying the outsized ambition and complexities churning behind Eva’s calculated façade.

In fact, neither Bowman’s performance nor the entire production staged by Michael Grandage really take off until Eva bleaches her hair.

Told in flashbacks, the sung-through pop opera begins and ends with Eva’s funeral. Young Eva and the musical fable’s narrator Che (Max Quinlan) emerge from a shadowy gathering of mourners and the story unfolds. In fast moving scenes, Eva climbs from poor, illegitimately born provincial girl to radio actress to girlfriend and later wife of military officer and politico Juan Perón (Sean MacLaughlin). Yes, in pursuit of fame and fortune she changes men like underwear but all that stops with Perón. In him, Eva finds her ticket to the big time.

Despised by the bourgeoisie and the military for her low birth and undue influence her husband, Eva finds an adoring power base in the working classes. “I am you,” she sings to them. As first lady, she gains popularity by funding numerous charities.

Her ascent is tracked musically with “Buenos Aires,” “High Flying, Adored” and, most memorably “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” which she sings to the crowds from the presidential residence’s balcony.  Diamond like in a shimmering strapless ball gown, Eva’s beatification is complete. Not one to miss an opportunity, Perón puts his wife’s charisma to use and sends her on a European goodwill tour. Her Rainbow tour is cut short by the cancer that will soon kill her at 33 in 1952.

Set and costume designer Christopher Oram envisions a gloomy Buenos Aires of soaring colonnades, tall arched windows and heavy doors. His costumes are painstakingly period (‘30s and ‘40s). Most striking are Eva’s balcony scene gown and Dior-inspired traveling suits.

Throughout the show, choreographer Rob Ashford cleverly employs tango in scenes involving mourners, lovers and friends. He even partners soldiers in a more combative variation of the dance.

Lloyd Weber’s score is gorgeously sung by the three principals and Christopher Johnstone as Magaldi, the schmaltzy tango singer who reluctantly brings teenage Eva to Buenos Aires.

Without his trademark beret, Quinlan’s Che is less politicized. He possesses the irony but lacks the fire of a revolutionary. As quietly ambitious Perón, McLaughlin (whom local audiences will remember from Signature Theatre) is terrific. He’s a seductive presence and makes a believable love match for Bowman’s Eva.

Unfortunately an otherwise strong and energetic effort is marred by some audio problems. On press night, Tim Rice’s lyrics were difficult to decipher. Those familiar with the songbook fared best.

Still, this “Evita” is a production well worth seeing.

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Out & About

10 LGBTQ events this week

A Gaga afterparty and a cardboard boat regatta among attractions

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(Washington Blade photos by Vanessa Pham and Michael Key)

Below are our picks for some of the most fun and creative things to do this week in the DMV that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community.


Reign

Logan Stone hosts ‘Reign’ on Monday. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Monday, August 8
8-11 p.m.
DIK Bar
1637 17th Street, N.W. (second floor)
Facebook

Join Logan Stone, Dabatha Christie and Hennessey for a fun-filled drag show at Dupont Italian Kitchen Bar tonight at 8.


OMGaga Afterparty

Lady Gaga (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Monday, August 8
10 p.m.
Green Lantern
1335 Green Court, N.W.
Facebook

Did you catch the Gaga concert tonight? Whether you did or not, join the afterparty at Green Lantern. Show your ticket stub from the concert for a free drink on the dance floor.


Drag Bingo with Desiree Dik

Desiree Dik (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Tuesday, August 9
7-9 p.m.
Red Bear Brewing Co.
209 M Street, N.E.
Facebook

Join Desiree Dik for a game of bingo at Red Bear Brewing Co. on Tuesday. Free to play.


Queer Trivia

Wednesday, August 10
7-9 p.m.
Dew Drop Inn
2801 8th Street, N.E.
Facebook

The Mistresses lead a night of Queer Trivia on all things gay at the Dew Drop Inn on Wednesday.


Thirst Trap Thursdays

Join Cake and the queens for Thirst Trap Thursdays. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Thursday, August 11
10 p.m.
Pitchers DC/A League of Her Own
2317 18th Street, N.W.
Facebook

Venus Valhalla and Cake host the Thirsty Thursdays drag show at Pitchers/ALOHO on Aug. 11.


LGBTQ Social at Wild Days

Friday, August 12
7-9 p.m.
Wild Days Rooftop Bar at the Eaton Hotel
1201 K Street, N.W.
21+
Eventbrite

Have some casual conversations with new friends in the LGBTQ community over drinks in a relaxed atmosphere. Hosted by Go Gay DC.


A Love Letter to RENT

Friday, August 12
10 p.m.
JR.’s Bar
1519 17th Street, N.W.
Free admission
Facebook

Watch a drag show dedicated to the hit musical RENT. If you miss the first show on Friday, come by on Saturday at 4 p.m. for an encore performance.


Lights On, Barks Out! Disco Heat Drag Brunch

Saturday, August 13
Seating 11 a.m./show 12 p.m.
Astro Beer Hall
1306 G Street, N.W.
$15 cover
Facebook

Join host Doming0 for the Disco Heat Drag Brunch on Saturday at Astro Beer Hall.


Lake Anne Cardboard Boat Regatta

Lake Anne (Blade file photo by Vanessa Pham)

Saturday, August 13
2 p.m.
Lake Anne Plaza
1609 Washington Plaza
Reston, Va.
Facebook | Website

Watch a cardboard regatta race along Lake Anne in Reston, Va. Or, you could even participate (rules here)!


Mister & Miss AGLA Scholarship Fundraiser

Miss AGLA 2020-21 Ashlee Jozet Adams and Mr. AGLA 2020-21 Xavier Bottoms will be honored at the event alongside the newly-crowned Mr. and Miss AGLA 2022. (Photo via Facebook)

Sunday, August 14
7-9 p.m.
Freddie’s Beach Bar & Grill
555 23rd Street S
Arlington, Va.
$10 donation requested
Facebook

Join a fundraiser for a good cause: a college scholarship for an outstanding Arlington County Public High School senior. Also, the 2022 Mr. and Miss AGLA will be crowned.


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Photos

PHOTOS: United Night OUT

Team DC and Federal Triangles honored at halftime

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2022 United Night OUT. (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Majoros)

United Night OUT 2022 was held on August 6 at Audi Field with DC United taking on their Atlantic Cup rivals, the New York Red Bulls. The two teams battled to a 0-0 scoreless draw in their 99th meeting. The LGBTQ community event was co-hosted by Team DC and the Federal Triangles Soccer club who were both honored at halftime.

(Washington Blade photos by Kevin Majoros)

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Arts & Entertainment

Abbi Jacobson engaged to her girlfriend Jodi Balfour

Last week, Jacobson and Balfour made their first red carpet debut at the Los Angeles premiere of A League of Their Own. 

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Photos from Bigstock.

Abbi Jacobson, the Emmy Award nominee, is engaged to her girlfriend Jodi Balfour. She confirmed the news to People as she celebrated with her costars in the upcoming Amazon Video series A League of Their Own.

D’Arcy Carden, the costar and Jacobson’s friend of 15 years, said, “It’s out. It’s great. We’re so happy. We love [Jodi].”

“Abbi’s engaged! Abbi’s engaged! Abbi’s engaged!” Chanté Adams, also a costar in the upcoming series, followed, “We’ve had to hide it for … No, I’m kidding.”

“No, you have not. You have not had to hide it.” Jacobson responded, blushing, “That was not a thing. It was not a secret.”

Last week, Jacobson and Balfour made their first red carpet debut at the Los Angeles premiere of A League of Their Own. 

The couple started dating in 2020 and celebrated their first anniversary last October. Jacobson shared some selfies of them on instagram: “One year with this incredible human. Don’t know how I got so lucky ❤️.” 

Likewise, Balfour wrote in the caption: “365 days of the best surprise of my life 💚.”

Jacobson officially came out as a bisexual in the interview with Vanity Fair. “I date men and women,” she said, adding as long as the person is “funny” and is “doing something they love.”

Balfour, a South African actress, is known for her performances on For All Mankind, Supernatural, The Crown and True Detective. 

Jacobson is both cast and co-creator of A League of Their Own, in which she would tell the stories of these LGBTQ women in the 1940s. She also talked about Maybelle Blair, a consultant of the show as well as a former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player who came out at 95. 

“But Maybelle’s point of view, specifically on the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League experience, what that was like to play baseball at the time, what it was like to be a queer woman in the league, was pretty important for some of the stories we were telling. But at Tribeca, she had not come out publicly and that was so incredible. And don’t you feel like it’s like, ‘95!’ I’m like, ‘This show needs to come out.’ She came out because we made this show.”

The first episode of A League of Their Own will be released on August 12.

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