???Evita??? is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The production is the true story based on the events leading to the rise of power of Juan Peron and Eva Peron??™s in Argentina. Starting as a young girl who looses her father, Eva, played by Madonna, is later shown as a young woman hungry for fame and power sleeping her way to the top of society. In the song ???Goodnight and Thank You,??? Eva explains her tossing away of men by explaining that she??™s ???hoping [her] lover will help them or keep them, support them, promote them.??? Throughout the show we see characters exploit each other and the use of Eva??™s new found fame as a powerful instrument. The musical has a theme of media manipulation, the public starvation for icons that are larger than life, and the power of image. As reflected by the narrator Che, played by Antonio Banderas, ???Why try to govern a country when you can become a saint.???
Rice and Webber chose to make ???Evita??? an opera-like musical, with no dialogue until the last line of the show. The show has a more somber tone than most Broadway shows, and the operetta style gives it a more epic feel. As it relates to the theme of the public starvation for people who are larger than life, her continual singing gives her a grandiose facade. Evita seems to have an innate knowledge of the power of image. As she introduces herself to Buenos Aires she boldly proclaims ???Stand back, you oughta know whatcha gonna get in me, Just a little touch of star quality.??? Her knowledge of image is also shown by her social climbing through men and the upper class arrogance she gains with ascending of each rung. Webber and Rice use song to progress the story as we see Evita passing up one man for another to take to her bedroom in the song ???Goodnight and Thank You.??? Che, the narrator who loosely represents Che Guevara and the everyman with an independent viewpoint, breaks down the fourth wall to the audience. Che??™s mocking lyrics further the theme of media manipulation and the power of hype as he teases Evita??™s spectacle to win over the gullible masses. In the song ???The Lady??™s got Potential,??? Che sarcastically calls her ???the greatest social climber since Cinderella,??? and comments on how ???she couldn??™t act but she had the right friends.??? Webber and Lloyd use the narrator to convey their theme of the arbitrariness of fame and social standing.
Because Evita??™s is an iconic actress, she is able to meet the soon to be powerful Juan Peron. He explains the appeal of celebrities by saying ???when you act, you take us away from the squalor of the real world.??? During the first meeting between Juan Peron and Evita, there is swift tango dancing, showing tactful movement as people in society also use. Evita uses her radio show to convince the masses that Peron is a man of the people, in the song ???A New Argentina,??? she explains that ???he lives for your problems, he shares your ideals and your dreams, If not how could he love me??? During the song Webber and Rice use chanting lyrics of the masses ???a new Argentina, the chains of the masses untied, a new Argentina, the voice of the people,??? to show the ease at which they are swayed. Again, we see Che??™s mocking tone of the media manipulation as he sings ???how annoying that they have to fight elections for their cause, the inconvenience, having to get a majority.???
Evita, now the wife of the president, knows she needs to be larger than life and although she promoted herself as a woman who started from nothing she beings to ???dress to the nines.??? In the song ???Rainbow High,??? Evita furthers her iconic image and explains that she ???came from the people, they need to adore me, so Christian Dior me from my head to my toes.??? In this scene there is strong imagery of Evita trying on fur coats and dazzling diamonds. Webber and Lloyd portray Evita is launching herself into sainthood by having the masses holding candle and religious symbols as they await her speech; much like a crowd would do to honor a saint.
In the final scene we see Evita??™s funeral and her farewell song of ???Don??™t Cry for me Argentina,??? which echoes throughout the entire show. It is a very touching and emotionally charged song that makes the audience almost forget how she artfully swindled her way to the top of society through the bedroom. Although Evita??™s theme has a cynical tone about the power of an icon; the ending scene of the funeral shows how much the masses needed one. She brought a country together and promoted ideals that had never been at that point in Argentinean history. Rice??™s lyrics to ???Don??™t Cry for Me Argentina,??? humanizes Evita and explains why the masses loved her as she winds up her story ???so I chose freedom, running around, trying everything new, but nothing impressed me at all, I never expected it to.??? The final words of Evita are said rather than sung, further showing her as just a woman and not the grandiose saint she projected.