The Evita movie opened Christmas Day at the Sony Theatres at New York's Lincoln Center, and Playbill On-Line's indefatigable intern Andrea Prince was there and filed a report, below. Not to be outdone, one of our California members attended the LA opening and filed an answering report. Here are both:
In New York
People began lining up well over an hour and a half early just to get into the cinema for the 10:40 PM performance, though they were holding pre paid tickets. Once the doors opened, mobs ran for the best seats in the house.
In the lobby two dancers could be seen doing the tango as an extra little promotion. An apparently male drag Madonna/Evita lookalike, who later handed out complementary posters after the show, came out and greeted everyone by welcoming us to the premiere and telling us to make sure we "screamed and clapped really loud."
She compared us to the group at an earlier screening the same day, saying that they were "boring" and that she wanted more enthusiasm from our group.She had nothing to fear. As soon as the opening credits appeared and the music swelled, people were clapping and screaming as if they were at a football game. Never in my life have I been to a movie where people applauded after a song was sung, but after almost every song the audience cheered and applauded as if Madonna and Antonio Banderas were right in the theatre performing live.
-- By Andrea Prince
In Los Angeles
From sshawca, attending the first public screening, 10 AM, at Los Angeles Cinerama Dome.
It was cooler in L.A. for Christmas morning. We had to put on long sleeves. But that did not deter the anxious crowd with their mail order tickets. The newpapers reported that all performances for the first day were "sold out". The anticipation created a party atmosphere.
Firstly, I kind of expected the theatre to look more decorative for the occasion. After all this is Hollywood! But alas, the crowd had to be the decoration. In the lobby, shoved way to the side, so not to interfere with the popcorn sales, was the EVITA souvenier counter. Considering the t-shirts were only the price of 2 popcorns and a soda... They were a bargain at the customary $15 ... I opted for the shirt.
They let us in and it was obvious that there were a few empty seats. Not hundreds -- let's say about 100. Now, this is a large theatre, so that's not all that many, but [it had been billed as] a sell-out. Perhaps the studio bought the tickets for hype? On to the film... And thankfully only one trailer was shown...
As a transplanted New Yorker, whose heart still beats for Broadway, I of course saw Patti LuPone here in Los Angeles with her pre Broadway run, and then again on Broadway at the second performance. (Quite a different Patti, I might add.) So.... I did not go the see MADONNA in Evita, I went to see EVITA...THE FILM.
Now, I admit I listened to the soundtrack CD repeatedly, and noticed many annoying differences, but was generally pleased with the vocals. I did not expect the film I saw...
IT WAS GOOD!
I would swear some of the soundtrack has been beefed up since the CD, and all three leads were great! Jonathan Pryce was perfect. Madonna (already burdened with her prior acting reviews...did I say acting?), proved more than adequate. She was visually stunning and convincing. I've seen many a touring company with much less to offer. Banderas sang very well, and his vocals were far more "understandable" in person, than on the CD. One minor quibble on the direction of his character "Che". It was not made clear enough just how vital HE was in the Peron overthrow. He comes across in the film more as a narrator, than the "personally involved" character as presented in the Broadway version. Poor direction, certainly not poor performance.
There are vast differences between the silver screen and the stage, especially the audiences. A completely sung film....made in the U.S... even the local critics can't cope with the idea. Thank God, movie critics are not theatre critics. Movie audiences demand "instant" gratification and entertainment. They absolutely do not like to have to think... thus some of the reviewers WILL have difficulty with this film.
If I compared this to, say, the film version of Chorus Line, this wins hands down. Is Madonna's "Don't Cry for Me" as exciting as My Fair Lady's, Audrey Hepburn walking down the staircase in her formal gown... no.
The Los Angeles audience, at least the 10 AM Christmas morning one, seemed pleased, were very quiet and attentive. But they were not jumping out of their seats. There was some moderate applause at the end of the film. But the "gab" leaving the theatre I heard was all very "up". And the paparazzi were outside ready to select people, "one from each politically correct ethnic group" to interview. They avoided the gay crowd and went for the "mainstream America". I wonder if they were looking for a bad comment, rather than a positive one. I hung around, and listened... Every thing they asked was Madonna this, and did Madonna that... Unreal! These L.A. press/movie people havn't got a "clue" as to what this film is about.