The new musical from Jay Turvey and Paul Sportelli brings something very new to the Shaw, even if the plot is nothing new for musical theatre. Essentially a mashup of Carmen’s tropes and Aida’s plot, Maria Severa tells the story of a young Portugese prostitute (the titular Maria) who falls for a man above her station (the handsome bull fighter Armando De Vimioso), who is, in turn, being forced to marry a woman he doesn’t love for her money (Clara da Silva). Maria’s beautiful and groundbreaking music, fado, makes her an important advocate for her people in the poverty-stricken Mouraria, but her love of Armando forces her to choose between love and loyalty. Most of the songs are as derivative as the plot, but as played by an exceptional cast, Maria Severa’s sultry tones are a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dreary Shaw season full of period English living rooms and parlors.
|photos by Emily Cooper|