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Oh What A Circus: An American Version Of Evita

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With the strains of Don't Cry for Me Argentina still fresh in my mind from Vancouver Opera's production of Evita, I am re-imagining the seminal 70's rock opera with a whole new American cast.

Since Evita is really a morality play about unbridled political ambition and dangerous populism -- with a great Andrew Lloyd Webber score -- it seems a fitting moment for a revival as the U.S. elections drama plays out to its bitter end.

It's a musical that taps into the current zeitgeist, with political populism back in style with an enthusiasm not seen since Reagan's reign (or at the very least not since Obama's first run at the White House).

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Photo from Vancouver Opera by Tim Matheson

Of course, I couldn't do a re-write all on my own. I would definitely employ Elizabeth Warren -- with her unbridled talent for twitter sphere zingers -- as an alternate librettist.

Evita's opening number, Oh What a Circus, could aptly describe the ongoing race to the bottom for the American presidency.

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Screenshot of "Freedom Kids" from a Trump campaign rally in Pensacola, Florida.

And Ted Cruz would be a shoo-in to play Peron's young mistress who gets unceremoniously dumped by Evita, and sings the poignant Another Suitcase, Another Hall. I'm sure he's got a lot of spare time on his hands (although I hear that he's working on a libretto with his wife for a new musical called Slavery).

But who would play Evita? Would it be Trump, Sanders, or Clinton?

Trump definitely shares Evita's naked ambition, ego driven mania, and unsubtsantive populism, but lacks her saintliness and fashion sense. (I can't imagine Trump in a hospital for sick children, handing out candy, as per the Act 2 scene in Evita. Surely the children would be terrified of his orange hair.)

But with Trump in the lead role, we (Elizabeth and I) could change the lyrics to Buenos Aires inserting Washington D.C. instead.

Hello D.C.....We'll put on a show/ All I want is a whole lot of excess/... Stand back, DC Because you oughta know whatcha gonna get in me/ Just a little touch of star quality

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Photo by AP Images

Paul Ryan and establishment Republican types would be well cast as the Evita hating generals playing a power-hungry game of musical chairs, singing The Art of the Possible, while disaffected coal miners in Pennsylvania could stand in as Trump's descamisados (shirtless workers)

But we'd have to change the lyrics slightly for the iconic balcony scene where Evita sings Don't Cry for Me Argentina accordingly.

Don't cry for me Middle America...the truth is, I've always despised you/ I just used you/ to boost my ego/ When I get elected/ I'll keep my distance

Then there's dear Bernie Sanders as a possible Evita. Hmmm...he definitely lacks Eva's fashion sense (They need to adore me/so Christian Dior me as she sings in Rainbow High) but comes close on the faux saint scale (remember the bird landing on the podium incident?) And, like Evita, he did get an audience with the Pope. (Full disclosure: on my last trip to Buenos Aires in 2011, I managed to meet the future Pope and visit Evita's tomb in the same day. A minor miracle soon unfolded)

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Photo from a rally in Seattle at Safeco Field, via Bernie Sanders' Twitter account.

Although Sanders' popular donations scheme is a far cry from Evita's dodgy Eva Peron Foundation (celebrated in the And the Money Kept Rolling In (And Out) number), he get's the lion's share of the people's love.

The Act 2 balcony song would have to be changed accordingly.

Don't cry for me Middle America...the truth is/I am one of you/ I'll fight your battles/ I'll increase taxes/ But it's for your own good/ Not for corporate America's /

But Bernie might be better cast as Che Guevara to Hilary's Evita, acting as a kind of Greek chorus/moral conscience as she rises ruthlessly to the top.

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Photo from Vancouver Opera by Tim Matheson

The number A Waltz for Eva and Che, when Che accuses Eva of using the Argentine people for her own ends, and Eva replies that there is no glory in trying to solve the world's problems from the sidelines, would hardly need a tweak.

As Che sings, How can you claim you're our savior/ When those who oppose you are stepped on, or cut up, or simply disappear/

And Evita replies, Tell me before you get onto your bus
Before joining the forgotten brigade
How can one person like me, say,
Alter the time-honored way the game is played?

And, If I said I'd take on the world's greatest problems
From war to pollution, no hope of solution
Even if I lived for one hundred years.

Yes, I could envision Hilary as Evita, although she'd have to lose the pantsuits and learn how to ride the subway. I can see her now singing from the balcony,

Don't cry for me Middle America/ The truth is, I am far above you/ With huge speaking fees/ At Goldman Sachs/ I'll pretend to fight for you/ then I'll screw you over/

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Image: Hillary Clinton campaign poster.

Tough call really for the American re-cast. If Hilary wins, I could also really see Trump taking Evita's famous promise volvera y sera miliones and changing it to I will return, and you'll all be millionaires.

Oh What a Circus indeed.

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