Review: ‘West Side Story’ at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport
By AILEEN JACOBSON
SEPT. 25, 2015
From the first sinewy notes of Leonard Bernstein’s music and the first hard-edged finger snaps of glowering young men prowling across the stage, it’s clear that the production of “West Side Story” at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport is on the right track.
As the musical’s mostly wordless prologue continues, the dancers portraying the Sharks and the Jets, opposing gangs in 1950s Manhattan, execute stylized acrobatics that suggest palpable danger while also staying true to the elegant, balletic choreography. Igor Goldin, the director; Jeffry Denman, the choreographer; and Trey Compton, the assistant director and fight choreographer, have found the balance between a realistic portrayal of violence and an artful depiction of it.
Jerome Robbins, who directed and choreographed the original 1957 production (and contributed the idea for the musical), created the template that the Engeman production follows — but not slavishly. The show has been tailored for a more intimate theater and a smaller stage than those that housed either the original or any of its four Broadway revivals. More important, they have resurrected the emotional urgency of a show that may now seem touchingly antiquated with its comic-relief interludes and clean-cut juvenile delinquents.
When it first opened, the musical shocked many critics and audience members. Referring to the gang warfare theme, Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times in 1957 that “very little of the hideousness has been left out.”
The plot, based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” is especially affecting here because of the appealing cast. Tony, a Polish-American former member of the Jets, is played by Zach Trimmer, who looks athletic enough to have been a gang leader but has a sweet smile that turns charmingly goofy whenever he thinks about Maria, the young Puerto Rican woman he meets at a dance. Beforehand, anticipating that good things are about to happen, he sings a lyrical “Something’s Coming,” and immediately afterward he delivers a haunting “Maria” filled with delicate tenderness. (The memorable lyrics of all of the songs are by Stephen Sondheim. Arthur Laurents wrote the musical’s book. Along with Bernstein, they form a starry triumvirate.)
As Maria, Samantha Williams looks and moves like the teenager she is supposed to be and speaks in a girlish voice. It’s a surprise to hear her singing voice, rich and operatic, bringing mature nuances to the wistful songs she shares with Mr. Trimmer’s Tony, including “Tonight” and “Somewhere.” She holds her own in a face-off with Karli Dinardo, who gives a strong performance as Anita, the girlfriend of Maria’s brother Bernardo, leader of the Sharks. After a rumble that results in two deaths, Anita sings an angry “A Boy Like That,” warning Maria to stay away from Tony, while Maria counters with a plaintive “I Have a Love.” The duet could turn maudlin but here remains taut and heartbreaking.
Sam Wolf, who plays Riff, leader of the Jets, is another standout. An impressive dancer, he is one of the few gang members who looks tough. (Others just dance tough.) Ashley Pérez Flanagan takes a shining turn in the comic song “America” as the lone holdout among the Puerto Rican girls who prefers her previous home to New York. The boys’ equivalent is “Gee, Officer Krupke,” in which Scott Shedenhelm steps up as the lead satirizer of the police officer who hounds the gangs.
The orchestra, under the direction of James Olmstead, provides lush support, and the set, stylishly designed by D T Willis, combines abstract elements with realistic ones in ways that reflect the balance between artifice and realism in the choreography. (It’s a shame that it appears to be made of cardboard or ultra-thin plywood.) It includes a real chain-link fence that the skilled dancers have no trouble climbing over — not even Melissa Hunt as Anybodys, a girl who wants to join the Jets. The costumes by Tristan Raines are mostly true to the 1950s, though the pristine matching tennis shoes worn by five of the Jets are a little disconcerting.
The scuff-free footwear, however, doesn’t stop the Jets actors or the rest of the cast from expressing their characters’ frustrations and desires through passionate dance.
2015 BroadwayWorld Long Island Awards Winners Announced - Engeman Theatre Big Winner!
Jan. 12, 2016
Votes are cast; polls are closed; and results have been tabulated! This was our biggest year yet! After a record number of voters in more than 70 regions worldwide, BroadwayWorld is very excited to announce the 2015 Long Island winners! Thanks to all who voted, and huge congratulations to all the winners!
Check back in October when the public nomination period will once again open.
And the winners are....
Best Actor in a Musical
Nikko Kimzin - West Side Story - John W. Engeman Theatre
Best Actor in a Play
Sean King - Orphans - Conklin Barn Theatre
Best Actress in a Musical
Ariana Valdes - In The Heights - SoLuna Studio
Best Actress in a Play
Jacqueline Misholy - Lost in Yonkers - Bare Bones Theatre Company
Jeffry Denman - West Side Story - John W. Engeman Theatre
Best Costume Design in a Musical
Tristan Raines - West Side Story - John W. Engeman Theatre
Best Costume Design in a Play
Tristan Raines - The Cottage - John W. Engeman Theatre
Best Director of a Musical
Igor Goldin - West Side Story - John W. Engeman Theatre
Best Director of a Play
James Bonney - Orphans - Conklin Barn Theatre
Best Ensemble Performance in a Musical
West Side Story - John W. Engeman Theatre
Best Ensemble Performance in a Play
Orphans - Conklin Barn Theatre
Best Lighting Design in a Musical
Zach Blane - West Side Story - John W. Engeman Theatre
Best Lighting Design in a Play
Jason Fok - Orphans - Conklin Barn Theatre
West Side Story - John W. Engeman Theatre
Best Musical Direction
James Olmstead - West Side Story - John W. Engeman Theatre
Orphans - Conklin Barn Theatre
Best Set Design in a Musical
DT Willis - West Side Story - John W. Engeman Theatre
Best Set Design in a Play
Jonathan Collins - The Cottage - John W. Engeman Theatre
Best Sound Design in a Musical
Laura Shubert - West Side Story - John W. Engeman Theatre
Best Sound Design in a Play
Laura Shubert - The Cottage - John W. Engeman Theatre
‘Evita’ Dazzles At The Engeman Theater
October 02, 2014
By Mary Beth Casper
Don’t cry for her, Argentina!
The spirit of the legendary Eva “Evita” Peron is alive and well, and temporarily living in Northport at the John W. Engeman Theater.
“Evita,” the Andrew Lloyd-Webber-Tim Rice operetta, opened on Sept. 18 and runs through Nov. 2.
If you haven’t already purchased tickets, you should. The resounding reactions of early audiences should mean this production will soon sell out.
In Broadway’s original “Evita,” Northport native Patti LuPone’s portrayal of Eva Peron set the gold standard for anyone else who undertakes the role.
The beautiful Janine Divita’s performance of Evita at the Engeman is one that LuPone would applaud. Divita is the real deal. She becomes Evita with every breath she takes, every elegant move she makes, as well as with every incredible word she sings in a play that has no spoken dialogue.
Divita’s voice is glorious, filling the theatre with a majestic quality that captivates audiences just as the real Evita Peron captured the working-class hearts of Juan Peron’s Argentina during the World War II and post War era.
For those who aren’t familiar with the play, the story focuses on the meteoric rise to fame and fortune of Maria Eva Duarte Peron (“Evita”), who began life as a poor girl in the slums of Argentina, but with steely determination and the use of her sexual wiles, climbed the ladder of success to become a model and stage actress and then, First Lady of her nation.
Eva Peron may have been the first of many modern-day women who knew how to use the media to help build and maintain the image she wished to convey to her adoring public. While the working class loved her, she was ridiculed by the upper class.
Divita portrays Evita with a fire in her belly and sheer determination in her eyes.
The play is told with the use of a storyteller, Che (the rebel Che Guevara, one of Juan Peron’s political foes). Che is played by Aaron C. Finley. Finley’s stage presence is commanding, his voice astounding.
Evita begins as an audience of working place Argentines sit in a theater enjoying a film. A voice breaks in telling them their beloved Eva Peron has died. Deep shock and sadness ensue, and the people reverently sing a Requiem to their cherished Evita.
Che cynically dismisses all the mourning, singing, “Oh, What a Circus.”
In a few flashbacks in time, the audience witnesses the teen-aged brunette Eva, convincing a tango lounge singer to take her out of the slums to Buenos Aires, where she is determined to become a star. Che sings of her ability to hitch her wagon to the star of any man who can further her career. We see the young Eva sleeping her way up the ladder of success.
After an earthquake severely damages one Argentine city, the now blonde Eva attends a fundraiser hosted by military leader, Juan Peron. In a bold gesture, she seduces Peron by serenading him with “I’d be Surprisingly Good for You.” Peron agrees with her words. He takes her home with him, that night, where she immediately moves in, dismissing his current mistress.
Peron’s election and the success he and Evita eagerly embrace are ridiculed by Che in the song, “High Flying and Adored.”
In Act 2, the operetta’s amazing showstopper, “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,” has Evita singing to the masses of her willingness to leave her acting career behind and work with her husband to make their peoples’ lives better. Divita’s rendition of the song produced goose bumps and won resounding applause.
Throughout the rest of Act II, we see Eva planning a trip to Europe in order to bolster the image of the Peron presidency. She also starts a charitable foundation to help her beloved working-class citizens, but soon becomes so taken with her own fame that she falls victim to the lure of money and power. The saintly image, now tarnished, is lambasted by Che.
Sadly, Evita’s young, charismatic life is threatened by an advanced cancer, and she dies at the age of 33, leaving Peron and her people behind in deep mourning. Evita is a classic soap opera set to an exquisite score. The cast members embrace their roles fully. Credit Director Igor Golden for eliciting believable performances from all – even the chorus members.
Aided by a beautiful set by Daniel Willis, amazing costumes by Kurt Alger, and excellent music direction (James Olmstead), choreography (Antoinette DiPietropolo) and lighting (Zach Blane), this production is nearly picture perfect.
Bruce Winnant is the proud President Juan Peron, whose dedication to his people and tender love for his Evita are presented beautifully.
One last shout out needs to go to young Ashley Perez Flanagan, who, in one brief solo, brought the house down. Flanagan plays the Peron mistress whom Evita dismisses on the night she moves in with Peron. Flanagan’s beautiful voice and tragic questioning, “Where will I go?” tugged at the heart strings of audience members. She definitely has a future!
Theatre Review: ‘Memphis’ at John W. Engeman Theater
Posted By: Kristen Weyer
March 28, 2016
If you’re looking for an entertaining evening of theater, then look no further than Northport. The John W. Engeman Theater’s current production of Memphis is full of great acting, fantastic singing and fun music. With a book by Joe DiPietro, and score by David Bryan, Memphis originally opened on Broadway in 2009 and received four Tony Awards. Directed here by Igor Goldin with choreography by Antoinette DiPietropolo, Memphis is a rock-and-roll good time for all.
. . .a rock-and-roll good time for all.
The action takes place, obviously enough, in Memphis, Tennessee during the early 1950s. It is a time fraught with racial tension and segregation. Young Huey Calhoun (Carson Higgins), however, seems not to notice or care. He’s a white boy who loves good music, and if the good music happens to be found on the “dark” side of town, well then, that’s where he’s going to go. When he meets the beautiful and talented, black singer Felicia (Breanna Bartley), he vows to get her on the radio where all of Memphis will hear her. Even with his crazy ways, his charm and determination help him to turn Memphis upside down.
This cast is simply wonderful. Filled with talent, each voice seems to be better than the next. Carson Higgins plays the awkwardly adorable Huey to perfection. His gangly stride, goofy grin, and impeccable comedic timing make his every scene a pleasure to watch. Felicia is portrayed by vocal powerhouse Breanna Bartley. Her stunning performances bring not only her character, but the story to life. Felicia’s brother Del Rey is played by C. Mingo Long, whose incredible voice resonates throughout the theater whenever he sings. Jarred Bedgood does wonderfully in the touching role of Gator, while Arthur L. Ross is superb as the amusing Bobby. The beleaguered Mr. Simmons, and stressed-out Gladys are delightfully played by David McDonald and Kathryn Markey respectively.
DT Willis’ set design works brilliantly for this production. The clever two story set contains sliding panes which allow the audience to “see” who is on the air above the radio station below. Intelligent sound design by Laura Shubert brings the rock-and-roll volume without losing the lyrics. The band, under direction from James Olmstead, marvelously performed the high energy score. All of this, combined with the fun costuming of Tristan Raines, assisted in bringing this production to its successful completion. With its rockin’ music, touching story and clever one liners, Memphis is a fun time that is sure to appeal.
Photo Coverage: THE FULL MONTY Opens at The John W. Engeman Theater Northport
THE FULL MONTY played a full-hearted opening last night. Check out the photos below!
This 10-time Tony Award nominee is filled with honest affection, engaging melodies and a raucous mix of razor-sharp humor and toe-tapping pizazz... not to mention the most highly anticipated closing number in Broadway history! In need of quick cash and low on prospects, six unemployed Buffalo steelworkers come up with the outrageous idea to put on a strip act after seeing their wives' enthusiasm for a touring company of Chippendales. As they prepare for the big night, working through their fears, self-consciousness and anxieties, they overcome their inner demons and find strength in their camaraderie.
THE FULL MONTY features a book by Terrence McNally (Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Ragtime, Catch Me If You Can) with score and lyrics by David Yazbek (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown).
The Creative Team is Keith Andrews, Director (National Tour: The Full Monty; New York: The Gig (NYMF), Regional: The Rocky Horror Show (Regional Premiere), Rock of Ages, Saturday Night Fever, The Addams Family, South Pacific, Spamalot, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (starring Joe Piscopo), Sister Act, Shrek, Young Frankenstein, The Drowsy Chaperone); Antoinette DiPietropolo, Choreographer (Engeman Theater: Mamma Mia!, Memphis, Miracle on 34th Street, The Producers, A Christmas Story, Evita!, The Music Man, South Pacific, Hairspray, I Love You You're Perfect Now Change and Nunsense. Off Broadway: With Glee. Regional: Annie, Jesus Christ Superstar, Chicago, Ragtime. National Tour: How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Associate Director/Choreographer for The Big Apple Circus) and ANDREW HAILE AUSTIN, Musical Director (New York: Golden Fleece Opera Company; Regional: Tidewater Opera Initiative (Composer-in-Residence), Virginia Music Theatre, Virginia Stage Company, Theatre Under the Stars, Gateway Playhouse).
The Creative Team also includes: DT Willis (Scenic Design), Tristan Raines (Costume Design), Doug Harry (Lighting Design), LAURA SHUBERT (Sound Design), GAYLE SEAY and SCOTT WOJCIK of Wojcik/Seay Casting (Casting Directors), EMILIA MARTIN (Wig & Hair Design), TONIANNE DIFILIPPO (Props Design), Vincent Ortega (Assistant Director/Choreographer), Denise Wilcox (Production Stage Manager), and Kristie Moschetta (Assistant Stage Manager).
THE FULL MONTY is produced by Richard T. Dolce the Engeman Theater's Producing Artistic Director.
The cast of THE FULL MONTY features Brent Michael DiRoma as Jerry Lukowski (National Tours: Jersey Boys, Avenue Q; Off-Broadway: I'd Rather Be Right, Cabaret Girl (Musicals Tonight); Regional: Legally Blonde and West Side Story at Gateway Playhouse), Ryan G. Dunkin as Dave Bukatinsky (Broadway Workshops/Readings: Pure Country, Shrek the Musical; National Tours: Cheers: Live on Stage, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, The Full Monty), Peter Simon Hilton as Harold Nichols (Engeman: Boeing, Boeing (Bernard); National Tours: Frost/Nixon, Oklahoma!, LES MISERABLES); SPENCER GLASS as Malcolm MacGregor (New York: Wringer!; National Tour: Elf; Regional: Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Weston Playhouse), Noah Bridgestock as Ethan Girdard (Regional: Hairspray, LES MISERABLES, Bonnie and Clyde; Film: "Webb MD" and "Allabaster") and Milton Craig Nealy as Noah "Horse" T. Simmons (Broadway: Motown the Musical, Caroline or Change, Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Ain't Misbehavin', Once on This Island, Dreamgirls; National Tours: The Full Monty, Dreamgirls, Jesus Christ Superstar; Film: "The Blues Brothers").
Press Opening is Saturday, January 21st at 8:00 pm. THE FULL MONTY will play the following performance schedule: Thursdays at 8:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00. Some Wednesday and Sunday evenings are available. Tickets are $76 on Saturday evenings, $71 all other performances and may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, going online at EngemanTheater.com, or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted.
The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport is Long Island's only year round professional theater company, casting actors from the Broadway talent pool. From curb to curtain, we have made it our business to provide affordable, quality, theater in an elegant one-of-a-kind location with outstanding facilities and extraordinary service. The renovated Theater offers stadium-style seating, state-of-the-art lighting and sound, a full orchestra pit, and a classic wood-paneled piano lounge with full bar.
Breakthrough Entertainment’s Broadway Show (Airdate: Aug. 22, 2015)”
Coinciding with the release of the Broadway-set screwball comedy “She’s Funny That Way,” Breakthrough Entertainment’s guests include stage actress Kimberly Faye Greenberg and scenic designer DT Willis. Writer/director Mora Stephens also previews her new drama “Zipper” while other films featured include “After Words,” “Some Kind of Beautiful” and “Ten Thousand Saints.”
‘The Full Monty’ review: Laughter’s the bare essential in Northport
In “The Full Monty,” six unemployed, middle-age men are so desperate for the dignity of earning a wage — even for just one night — that they strip naked in front of friends, family and everyone else they know in their hometown. The Tony-nominated musical, based on a British film, is played for laughs. And waves of opening-night laughter were generated at Northport’s Engeman Theater.
Laid off from a failed Buffalo plant, steelworkers hatch their short-term enterprise after seeing their wives thrilled by Chippendale strippers. For their striptease, they’re dressed as faux cops, hats and all.
Brent Michael DiRoma as Jerry and Ryan Dunkin as Dave, along with Peter Simon Hilton as Harold, their former boss — also laid off — embody the emotional investment these men have in their harmlessly public humiliation. Jerry, separated from his wife (Kate Marshall) and in child-support arrears, has the most at stake. He could lose shared custody of their son, played wise beyond his preteen years by Kyle Wolf. DiRoma invites us to own his pain, fortifying comedy with poignancy. Dunkin as overweight Dave lets us feel his self-consciousness about his body. But it’s his neglected wife, an empathetic Nicole Hale, who suffers his self-loathing about layabout unworthiness. Meanwhile, Hilton’s tortured Harold hasn’t told his wife (Gaelen Gilliland) that they can’t afford the high life anymore.
The guys recruit unabashed Malcolm (Spencer Glass) and Ethan (Noah Bridgestock) as unlikely partners, plus Milton Craig Nealy as “Horse,” a comically stereotypical “Big Black Man.” Together, they pledge to outstrip the Chippendales. All but stealing the show aboard DT Willis’ industrial set is their piano accompanist (Diane Findlay), who’s seen and done it all. Andrew Haile Austin and his six-piece band do the actual playing.
As directed by Keith Andrews and choreographed with naked split-second timing by Antoinette DiPietropolo and crucial backlighting by Doug Harry, it’s a blessed relief to laugh out loud as the men “Let It Go,” doffing even their hats.
Their humanity far outstrips their tease.
Review: Dancing in the Aisles to ‘Mamma Mia!’ in Northport
Catchy tunes and a clever plot helped make “Mamma Mia!” a 14-year-long hit on Broadway, and those qualities continue to provide buoyancy for the production at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport.
The musical’s construction is smart, too: It begins with a lively overture previewing some of the familiar tunes by the Swedish pop group Abba that fill the show, and it ends with curtain-call reprises of two of the bounciest songs, the title number and “Dancing Queen,” along with a bonus song, “Waterloo,” that Catherine Johnson, the resourceful book writer, somehow was unable to squeeze into her plot. She did, however, manage to find ways to integrate, with few or no changes in the lyrics, more than 20 other songs by the Abba writing team, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus (with some help from Stig Anderson). The musical closed on Broadway only a year ago, after spawning multiple productions and tours all over the world.
Since the actors encourage an audience singalong and group dance party during the choreographed curtain call — some performers even run into the aisles — the show ends on an intensive upbeat note.
The Engeman production needs that forgiving finale. It suffers from different styles and levels of acting skills, though it retains a fluffy, feel-good energy. Antoinette DiPietropolo, the director and choreographer, is better at moving cast members around in lively steps (and allowing the excellent dancers among them to show off) than she is at reining in the less seasoned actors, whose exaggerated facial expressions sometimes veered into cartoon territory.
The production’s greatest strengths are its leading actors. Hannah Slabaugh, who plays the 20-year-old Sophie Sheridan — who is about to get married and desires to meet the father she never knew — calls to mind a young Laura Benanti, with her fresh look and spunky-but-wise-beyond-her-years spirit. She also has a lovely voice, noticeable from the start in “I Have a Dream,” a soft ballad that begins and ends the plotted part of the musical.
Sophie has grown up on a small Greek island where her single mother, Donna, runs a taverna. After finding her mother’s diary from some nine months before her birth, Sophie discovers that her father could be one of three men, though none would be aware of her existence. Pretending to be her mother, Sophie sends wedding invitations to all three men, certain she’ll be able to determine which one is her dad. They all accept and show up, which is not a welcome surprise for either Donna or Sophie’s fiancé, Sky (Jacob Dickey).
To the role of Donna, the former star of a disco-era girl group called Donna and the Dynamos, Michelle Dawson brings a knockout voice and an aura of maturity and gravity. Ms. Dawson knows the part well — she was an understudy for it on Broadway and played Donna during the national tour. She suffuses her numbers with deep emotions, particularly in her high-voltage “The Winner Takes It All,” when Donna feels she has lost her chance at happiness.
The men playing the possible fathers (Frank Vlastnik, Jeff Williams and Sean Hayden, each personable and distinctive) are less intense, but like Ms. Dawson are adept at keeping their roles within an acceptable realm of realism. As are the two women who play the Dynamos, with Heather Patterson King as the glossy, still-svelte Tanya and Robin Lounsbury as the more down-to-earth Rosie. When they enter, trailing remnants of their glamorous but eccentric pasts, they look a little like Edina and Patsy from the BBC television comedy and recent movie “Absolutely Fabulous.” When they, along with Donna, dress up in their tight, silver Dynamos outfits, they all look like shiny refugees from a “Star Trek” movie, thanks to Tristan Raines’s amusing costume designs.
Earlier, in their everyday clothes (Donna’s include ripped jeans, because she does a lot of repair work on her property), the three women reminisce about their former glory with an impromptu performance of “Dancing Queen,” each grabbing a shoe, a hairbrush or a flashlight to use as a make-believe microphone.
Very few numbers remain as a solo, duet or trio. In many scenes, a supporting chorus of singers and dancers soon pops up, which works well for a jukebox musical like this one. The band, under James Olmstead’s musical direction, provides a driving rhythmic support. DT Willis’s set, dramatically lighted by Adam Honore, is a low-key but pleasing element, with evocative silhouettes in the first and last scenes that enhance the fable-like tone of the musical.
The most troubled relationship is that between Donna and Sam (Mr. Hayden), while the most heartwarming is the one that develops between Rosie and the adventurous Australian, Bill (Mr. Williams), to the tune of “Take a Chance on Me.”
Two of the lines from that song are “But I think you know, that I can’t let go,” which is something nearly all the lyrics could be saying. These classic tunes are earworms — so watch out. Even reading or saying the titles may embed them, once again, in your psyche.
BWW Reviews: An Enchanting EVITA at the Engeman
As Northport's John W. Engeman Theatre always does, they bring a touch of Broadway to Main Street and their current offering, the Tony winning musical Evita, is certainly no exception. The gorgeous Long Island venue executes an enchanting incarnation - running through November 1st - of the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber classic superbly directed by Igor Goldin.
The tale focuses on the life of Argentine force-to-be-reckoned-with Eva Perón centering on her rise through the political ladder to her untimely death. Exquisitely portraying Eva is Janine Divita (Broadway: Grease, Anything Goes, et. al.). The story shows Eva over a period of eighteen years; from when she was fifteen until her death at age thirty three. I really could go on and on about her stunning voice, gripping speeches to her "public", and wonderful stage presence, but I'm just going to say that you will remember Ms. Divita's Eva for quite some time. Eva meets and marries Colonel Juan Perón portrayed strongly by Bruce Winant (Broadway: La Cage Aux Falls, Phantom of the Opera, et. al). Ms. Divita and Mr. Winant's voices complemented each other well and were believable as a married couple.
Additional highlights of the stellar cast include Aaron C. Finley (Broadway: Rock of Ages, Allegiance) and Ashley Perez Flanagan. Mr. Finley, as Che, serves as the show's narrator and the packed audience gives a rousing round of applause to the extremely talented and handsome young actor. His performances of "Oh What a Circus" and "High Flying, Adored", the latter of which he sings with Ms. Divita, is particularly well received. And you will be mesmerized by Ms. Flanagan, who portrays the Mistress, as her voice soars on her emotional performance of "Another Suitcase in the Hall".
Besides the magnificent cast, you will become captivated by some of the most beautiful music that was created by Mr. Rice and Mr. Lloyd Webber. To be included with the aforementioned songs, Ms. Divita gives an outstanding rendition of the iconic "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" and the entire company is powerful on "Montage" at the end of Act Two. This music is spectacularly performed with the accompaniment of the live orchestra headed up by Musical Director James Olmstead. Additionally, Daniel Willis' set is fantastically highlighted by Zach Blane's lighting, and Craig Kaufman's sound design. Kurt Alger's costumes are also top notch - particularly Eva's "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" wedding gown inspired dress.
And so, it is quite clear that Northport's John W. Engeman Theatre has a hit with their vision of Evita. An inspired cast, beautiful music, and the stunning John W. Engeman Theater make for a delightful night of theatre.
Evita is presented by the John W. Engeman Theatre of Northport, Long Island, through November 2nd. By Tim Rice (Lyrics) & Adrew Lloyd Webber (Music), Directed by Igor Goldin, Scenic Design by Daniel Willis, Costume & Wig Design by Kurt Alger, Lighting Design by Zach Blane, Sound Design by Craig Kaufman, Assistant Direction and Fight Chorography by Trey Compton, Chorography by Antoniette DiPietropolo, Musical Direction by James Olmstead. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com