As assured and confident as any long-running musical now - or ever, for that matter - on Broadway, the altogether worldly and completely engaging production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita, playing at Andrew Jackson Hall through September 18, gives Nashville audiences the kind of exceptional theater experience they've come to expect from Studio Tenn.
Broadway veterans Eden Espinosa, Anthony Crivello and the scene-stealing Ben Crawford lend an air of mainstem sophistication and panache to the show, to be sure, yet they are surrounded by a cast of Nashville-based actors, singers and dancers who underscore our city's self-proclaimed moniker of "Music City" to absolute perfection, lending credence to the belief that all music made in Nashville - country or otherwise, but particularly musical theater music - is of higher quality than that created elsewhere.
Actually, this particular production goes far beyond what we've seen from the company to this point: While we've been impressed (maybe "gobsmacked" is more to the point) by what we've seen in the past from Studio Tenn's Matt Logan and Jake Speck, what we get from their Evita is the unexpected. It's a high-flying spectacle that engages and delights, sweeping audiences into a higher realm of theater that was perhaps alluded to in those earlier shows, but which remained tantalizingly out-of-reach. You knew, instinctively, that it was within their grasp but they needed a bigger venue to show off exactly what they were capable of doing onstage.