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Rex Reed eviscerates Broadway's 'Evita' starring Ricky Martin

April 11, 2012 | 12:29 pm


There are negative reviews, and then there is the kind of critical assassination practiced by Rex Reed, the veteran uber-critic whose current vulture perch is at the New York Observer. Once a powerful critical presence, Reed has long since been co-opted by the very cultural scene he once dissected, which has turned him into a Capote-esque shadow of his former self.

But in a review this week of Broadway's "Evita," Reed proves that he still has some bite left. The critic tears apart the revival production, starring Ricky Martin, with a gleeful ferocity that is a rare sight in today's rather genteel critical atmosphere.

"Can nothing be done, once and for all, to get rid of 'Evita?'" he writes. "Here it is again, worse than ever and revived on Broadway for no logical reason except to cash in on Ricky Martin's fame as a pop star."

Reed describes the production as "sprawling, overproduced, clumsily directed and strangely emotionless."  He writes that Andrew Lloyd Webber's music is "derivative" and that Tim Rice's lyrics are "repetitive," reducing the story of Eva Peron to a "second-rate operetta."

Reed adds: "It is rare to see and hear a biography of any historic significance trivialized by lyrics of such puerile banality."

As for Martin, the critic writes that the pop star doesn't fare well, being "forced to emerge from the shadows and comment from the sidelines, prance from stage right to stage left, and climb scaffolds and lean over railings while singing sophomoric lyrics."

Reviews for this London-exported "Evita," which stars Elena Roger in the title role and is directed from Michael Grandage, have been mixed. The New York Times gave it a pan while the New York Daily News and the Wall Street Journal were more positive.

"Evita," at the Marquis Theatre in New York, has been doing decent business and played to 99% capacity in the most recent week.


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-- David Ng

Photos: Left, Rex Reed. Credit: Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times. Right, Ricky Martin in the current Broadway revival of "Evita." Credit: Richard Termine.