- Last Updated: 10:48 AM, August 17, 2012
- Posted: 10:21 PM, August 16, 2012
I can’t say much for Ricky Martin’s performance as Ché in the revival of “Evita” at the Marquis.
With his jaunty cap and peppy demeanor, he looks more like a newsboy in Disney’s “Newsies” than a revolutionary in South America.
The night I saw the show, he was beaming so often at Juan and Evita, I nearly yelled, “You’re supposed to hate them! They’re ruining your country! They want to put you in jail. Stop smiling, dammit!”
But as a box-office draw, there’s no denying Martin’s a winner. He is, hands down, the biggest star on Broadway right now, selling out the Marquis and posting weekly grosses of more than $1.2 million.
With a frenzy every night at the stage door, it’s almost impossible to wade through the throngs of his fans on West 45th Street at the end of the show.
When he took a week off not long ago, receipts were cut in half. When he missed a couple of days here and there, each time the box office plunged some $200,000.
He’s also the highest-paid star on Broadway. With a nice percentage of the profits, he’s said to be making nearly $100,000 a week.
Martin’s contract runs to the end of the year, and I hear he may extend into the spring of 2013. But what happens to the production when he leaves?
Well, the producers are quietly putting out feelers to three star replacements — Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias and Antonio Banderas.
All would, I think, be solid draws, but whether any of them would want to replace Martin remains to be seen.
“They’re all big enough that they should be originating roles, not replacing people,” says a veteran producer.
Anthony starred on Broadway in the Paul Simon flop “The Capeman,” and I’m told it wasn’t a happy experience for him. But he was quite good in the show, and I think he’d bring an edge to “Evita” that isn’t there now.
Banderas may be a bit long in the tooth for the part, but he was superb in the 1996 movie, and I’d certainly go see him onstage. I thought he was terrific as filmmaker Guido Contini in the Roundabout’s superb 2003 revival of “Nine.” Because of his thick accent, you couldn’t understand what he was saying all the time, but it didn’t matter. He oozed “Antonio Banderas-ness,” as one Tony voter put it back then, and audiences adored him.
As for Iglesias, I don’t know if he’s much of an actor, but I’m sure he can sing the hell out of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s wonderful score — and he’ll have the ladies swooning in the aisles.
All in all, not a bad wish list of star replacements.
We’ll see if the producers of “Evita” can woo one of them.
Mary Rodgers is one of the last of the grande dames of Broadway. She’s the daughter of Richard Rodgers — theater royalty right there — and an accomplished writer and composer herself. Her charming musical, “Once Upon a Mattress,” is produced all the time in high schools and colleges, and her children’s book, “Freaky Friday,” is a classic.
She’s candid and witty and prized for her sharp observations about theater people. When writer Jesse Green was preparing a profile of the late Arthur Laurents for New York magazine, he called Rodgers for a quote. She famously replied: “Call me when he’s dead.”
When he did die last year, we all called — but she wasn’t talking.
Soon, though, we’ll find out why she came to despise Laurents, once one of her closest friends. Rodgers, I’m happy to report, is writing her memoir (with Green), and I’m sure it will be a juicy read.
In interviews, Rodgers has talked openly about her rebellious childhood (she once set fire to her bedroom curtains) and her contentious relationship with her mother, Dorothy, a formidable woman. She’s also discussed her father’s battles with depression and alcoholism.
The book is due to be published in 2013.
Pity Laurents isn’t around to read it!