Fulton ushers in new season with ‘Evita’

By on September 25, 2019

“Evita” at the Fulton Theatre stars (left to right) Enrique Acevedo as Juan Perón, Monica Ramirez as Eva Duarte “Evita” Perón, and Omar Lopez-Cepero as Che Guevera.

As a student at Donegal High School back in the early ’80s, I was a member of a club called PUFA (People United for the Arts). One of the perks of membership was the opportunity to be a volunteer usher at Fulton Opera House productions, and stay to watch the show for free.

I was lucky enough to see four or five shows at the Fulton this way, including “The King and I,” and my favorite musical to this day, “Barnum.”

On Thursday, for the first time in 25 years, I visited the Fulton Theatre again.

It’s still beautiful, constructed in 1852 on the site of Lancaster’s pre-Revolutionary jail. No matter where you lay your eyes inside the building, there’s some ornate little detail, or curving stairwell, or nook. It’s a real treasure, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

The Fulton’s been growing over the past few years. Their current project  — a monumental one  — involves increasing their footprint to a full city block. Eventually, they will house not only Fulton Theatre, but also the Tell Studio Theatre, Castagna Hall, Culliton Tower, and the Barshinger Artists’ Village.

A brief video about these upcoming improvements was shown to the audience prior to “Evita.” To learn more, visit fultonbreakout.org.

Monica Ramirez plays the title role in “Evita” at the Fulton Theatre. (LNP file photos)

‘Evita’

I still haven’t figured out whether or not I actually like Evita Perón. She came from obscurity and managed to become the first lady of Argentina  — an admirable thing, if only her methods weren’t so questionable. She died young, at 33 from cancer, and attained a near Christ-like following.

“Eva is complicated,” Omar Lopez-Cepero, who plays Che Guevera, the revolutionary who narrates the story, told LNP.

What an understatement!

Monica Ramirez, who brought Eva Duarte Perón to life, was magnificent. Her performance ran the gamut from childish innocence to downright mania  — and her versatile acting and vocal stylings were suited to every single nuance of Evita’s personality.

Shea Gomez, who portrayed the mistress of Juan Perón (the woman replaced by Evita) sings my favorite song in the show, “Another Suitcase in Another Hall.” Backed by an unseen male chorus, it was hauntingly beautiful.

Maybe I just love the role of Che in “Evita,” but I have got to hand some laurels to Omar Lopez-Cepero. He was an extraodinary vocalist, but it was his non-singing time that entertained me the most. When he showed up with a bag of popcorn and incredulous look on his face at a pivotal part in the plot, I thought, “Yes! This is exactly how I feel each time I read the news.” I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

I think I’ve spent so much time reviewing community theater that I’ve forgotten just how enthralling a show with an expanded budget can be. Everything was spot on  — costuming, sound, orchestra, lighting. I loved the integration of old photographs into the scenery.

The choreography was supreme, especially the tangoing couple in “I’d be Surprisingly Good for You.” If I knew their names, I’d love to give them a shout-out.

You’ve still got plenty of time to get out and see “Evita.” Just don’t go expecting a happy ending.

The show runs through Oct. 20. The venue is located at 12 N. Prince St. Go early! Construction and parking will slow you down more than you think.

You can see this show without paying a lot of money. Ticket prices start at $29 and even the worst seats at the Fulton give you a great view of the stage.

Learn more, check out the seating options, and purchase tickets online at thefulton.org, or call the box office at 717-397-7425.

Staff writer Melissa Hunnefield reviews local theater productions. She welcomes your comments and suggestions at mhunnefield.eph@lnpnews.com

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