Like many of you, I'm sure, I have a wide array of theatrical cast albums- including a few favorites which sneak their way into the rotation more than is fair- so it can take awhile to get back to some of them. This happened to me with Evita (the movie soundtrack, to be specific. Hate me all you want but I think Antonio Banderas actually did a really good job!) where on a road trip I listened to it for the first time since I lost the luxury of not paying attention to the news. A few lyrics, particularly from Oh, What A Circus stood out to me:
Sing you fools, but you got it wrong
Enjoy your prayers because you haven't got long
Your queen is dead, your king is through
And she's not coming back to you
Show business kept us all alive
Since seventeen October 1945
But the star has gone, the glamour's worn thin
That's a pretty bad state for a state to be in
Instead of government we had a stage
Instead of ideas, a prima donna's rage
Instead of help we were given a crowd
She didn't say much, but she said it loud
I was looking at my phone at the time but when I heard these lyrics, I nearly gave myself whiplash with how quickly I threw my head back up. I even texted fellow writer Rebecca about how familiar it sounded to the politics that are in play in America right now. I think we would all agree that right now it feels like it's a pretty bad state for a state to be in. But that's what happened- we didn't put in charge a politician or someone with a veteran background who knows how to lead, we put in someone with a certain touch of star quality.
There are other parallels we can draw- when in Italy, Eva is so upset about being called a whore and it echoes Trump's favorite accusation "fake news!" Or the entire song You Must Love Me- surely we've all noticed how attached to attention our president can be, and how quick he is to lash out when someone criticizes him. It must have been something that was critical to Eva as well, because in High Flying, Adored the sentiment is echoed in the lines "You won't care if they love you, it's been done before. You'll despair if they hate you, you'll be drained of all energy."
Now, I'll give you your rebuttal straight up front. I'm young. The 2016 election was the first one I was even able to vote in. This is the first time I've even paid attention to politics- but even I can tell that this is kind of insane and the only time in American politics we could compare it to was Nixon, but if Nixon had a Twitter account.
And if Eva Perón had a Twitter? God help us all.
This is the time for a revival of Evita. I know we just had one a few years back, but it wasn't timely- though, to be fair, unless the producers have a divining rod, I don't think anyone could see where things were going. But it's like the Julius Caesar production that was done recently, if we can look at the past as it's been laid out in iambic pentameter, or to my personal favorite of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's scores, and recognize that history is repeating itself, then maybe one day we can break the cycle.
They say those who remember history are also doomed to repeat it, but why? If we keep the media that we produce relevant, if we use it to remind people of the hard times we went through, painful though they may be, then I have faith that humanity will eventually catch on. We will consume with consideration and care and apply it to what's around us to protect us from a government run by a prima donna, or on Twitter, or from making a mess that will take us decades to recover from, and ultimately the person who spilled won't be around for the cleaning up.
Eventually, we have to learn.
(Photo credit: Evita, Broadway.)