Forty years ago this year, Evita opened at the Prince Edward Theater in London, becoming the third successful musical created by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice, following Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar.
However, unlike several of Lloyd Webber’s later musicals, such as Cats and Phantom of the Opera, Evita never made it Taiwan, much less the rest of Asia, until this year, when a new international touring production opened in Singapore in February.
Perhaps the tale of a free-spending wife of a dictator hit too close to home for some Asian governments in the 1980s and 1990s.
Photo Courtesy of The Really Useful Group
Taiwanese audiences will finally get their chance to see Evita when it opens at the National Theater in Taipei on Wednesday next week for a seven-show run.
Like Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita began life as a rock musical concept album in 1976, and Don’t Cry for Me Argentina became a No. 1 hit for Julie Covington in the UK, as well as topping record charts in several countries.
The familiarity of that song, along with High Flying, Adored and Another Suitcase in Another Hall, helped sell tickets when original stage production, directed by Broadway legend Harold Price, finally opened in London — and later on Broadway and elsewhere.
The two-act show has won a slew of awards for Lloyd Webber, Rice and Prince in its various incarnations over the decades. While the range of musical styles that Lloyd Webber used ranges from classical choral to rock ballads to tango, it is really Rice’s witty, though often acerbic, lyrics that sell the show — especially those in Peron’s Latest Flame (the generals’ song) — and linger in the mind for years.
Which is only appropriate, because it was Rice’s obsession with Eva Peron, an actress who became the wife of Argentine president Juan Peron and first lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952 at the age of 33, that inspired the show.
While “based on a true story,” as Hollywood likes to say, the historical accuracy of Evita’s rag-to-riches tale is dubious, but that does not detract from quality of the show, or enjoying it.
The production opening in Taipei next week has British actress Emma Kingston, whose mother is actually Argentine, in the lead role, with South Africans Robert Finlayson as Juan Peron and Jonathan Roxmouth as Che.
WHEN: From Wednesday, April 25 to Saturday, April 28 at 7:30pm; April 28 matinee at 2:30pm and April 29 at 11am and 3pm
WHERE: National Theater (國家戲劇院), 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號)
ADMISSION: NT$2,800 to NT$5,800, available through Kuang Hong Arts Management’s Web site at www.kham.com.tw, OK Mart convenience store ticket kiosks or by calling (07) 780-7071, Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 5:30pm, or faxing (07) 780-5353
Scott Saulters wasn’t sure if his film had just taken one of the two top prizes at a recent film competition. Although Saulters has been in Taiwan for 15 years and is proficient in Mandarin, the award ceremony for the inaugural “Bi Tian Iann” (眯電影) short film contest was conducted entirely in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), a language he can’t speak. “I thought I heard it, but I didn’t want to look too excited,” he says. Despite his limited command of the tongue, Saulter’s entry, Wu Yu Tzu (烏魚子, mullet roe), took first place in the amateur category of the
Since its launch in 2014, the Taiwan Season has increasingly become a “must-see” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. So, when this year’s three-week Fringe became an early casualty of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Chen Pin-chuan (陳斌全) was determined that the Taiwan Season must continue in some form. Chen, director of the Cultural Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, says that he and Taiwan Season curator and producer Yeh Jih-wen (葉紀紋) had been thinking of ways of growing and adding value to the season anyway. The crisis and the cancellation of the live performances brought those ideas forward as
The Taiwan of yesteryear was dominated in whole or in part by the Dutch, Spanish, Qing Empire and Japanese. But is the Taiwanese name for a popular edible fish derived from the Portuguese language? Cheng Wei-chung (鄭維中), an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, says yes. The fish in question is the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, which was listed in early 18th century Qing local gazetteers as Taiwanese specialities alongside milk fish and mullet, according to Cheng’s paper, “Mullet, narrow-barred Spanish mackerel and milkfish: Multiple contextual developments of three certified seafood specilaities in Taiwan, from the
In the regular drumbeat of arrests of alleged Chinese spies, one case last month stood out. It did not involve the US or another rival of China, but Russia, whose security services accused a prominent arctic scientist of selling classified data on technologies for detecting submarines. Meanwhile a court in Kazakhstan in October convicted the Central Asia nation’s preeminent China specialist of espionage, a move widely interpreted at the time as a warning against increased meddling by the superpower next door. Both men maintain their innocence and if China is spying on Russia, Moscow is surely doing the same. Even so, the fact