“I am interested in physical architecture and three-dimensional space, and how figures exist in it,” explains Christopher Oram, the UK-based set/costume designer for the 2006 London revival and new Broadway production of Evita. “This was my preoccupation, along with telling the story visually articulately and legibly.” Thus, New York is “based on the work we started in the London design but has been refined and embellished for Broadway,” Oram adds.
The iconic moment in Evita is the balcony scene at Casa Rosada, the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, where Evita addresses the crowd. “It was, for us, the pivotal moment of the piece, musically and dramatically,” says Oram of Eva’s debut as first lady to her people. “We wanted all elements including music, staging, and lighting to coalesce into this heightened moment of drama, showcasing Eva’s beauty, glamour, and authority. From the thousands of shimmering Swarovski crystals on her dress to the glorious backlight that bathes Evita in its radiant glow, every element reinforces the imagery and creates the legend.
“The story of a person’s rise to the top means that there must be something underneath to rise above!” continues Oram, about the catacombs on stage. “Knowing that a balcony would play a key role in the design, I knew I needed to come up with a practical use for the space beneath it. It soon became clear that these deep tunnels under our Casa Rosada would be the perfect place to house the disenfranchised lower class, the people on whose backs Evita climbed to reach her infamous balcony.”
To evoke Argentina through the décor, Oram says he “spent a great deal of time and effort researching Argentinean architecture, style, and society in preparation for designing both the sets and the costumes for this piece. Due to the increased amount of information available about South America since the original production, our aim was to better reflect Argentina visually on stage than had been previously possible.”