(I promise not to talk about only Antonio Banderas. --Hamlette)
Although The Phantom of the Opera is the first Andrew Lloyd Webber musical I heard, Evita is the first I saw because it was made into a movie starring Antonio Banderas and Madonna, which I rented with a college friend. I promptly fell madly in love with it (the movie, not the friend) and went right out and bought the soundtrack. The movie is rich, nuanced, probably historically inaccurate, and wonderful.
Everyone knows "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," so I won't say much about it here. There's a reason it's famous, though -- it's quite stirring. I'm always disappointed it's not actually about a guy named Argentina, though. I heard a bunch of the music before I saw the movie, but I didn't know the story line at all, so I made up what I thought all the songs were about, and on some of them I was fairly close (hard not to figure out "Another Suitcase, Another Hall"), but on others, I was very off.
Speaking of "Another Suitcase, Another Hall," here it is. I like how subdued and heart-achy it is. Much of Evita is militant and brash, but this is very emotional. It's about how young Eva has to turn to being a "kept woman" to support herself, but she never stays with a man long, so she always ends up holding her suitcase, standing in a hall outside a place she's leaving.
Here's a much more fun song, "And the Money Kept Rolling In (And Out)." This one has such a great energy, and of course, lots of Antonio Banderas singing. In the musical, his character Che is the narrator, but he also interacts with other characters, he doesn't just stand on the sidelines and watch, though sometimes he does that too. It's a really nifty device, and one of my favorite things about Evita. In this song, Che is explaining how, once she's the first lady of Argentina, Eva starts this fund to help the poor, but everyone's so busy collecting and distributing the money, no one's keeping books, so there might be some corruption going on, but who cares as long as the money keeps pouring out, right?
"High Flying, Adored" is my most favoritest song on the whole soundtrack. Che singing about how Eva has become super famous, but so easily and so young that she's in danger of becoming bored with everything. It is elegant and soaring and delicious. Eva insists it won't be a problem, she's not that special.
Even if you don't like musicals (and that's not a sin), if you're interested in politics, corruption, or the history of South America (though I've heard this is not entirely accurate), you might enjoy it. It's rated PG, but there is a lot of innuendo, the Argentinian version of the middle finger, some rough language, and violence. You can read imdb.com's Parent's Guide for it here if you want to know more. Also, it's a light opera more than just a musical -- nearly every line is song, as is typical for Andrew Lloyd' Webber's shows. People don't periodically dance about and burst into song, they do that for the whole movie.
You knew I was gonna add one more picture of Antonio Banderas, didn't you? I can't help it -- he's perfect in this.