Besides providing a living monument to the convertible as America's classic passion pit, Matthew Bourne's "The Car Man" allows alternating principals in his Adventures in Motion Pictures company ample opportunities to put their distinctive signatures on the leading roles of this full-evening dance drama. And cast changes have brought new emotional values and expressive insights to the run at the Ahmanson Theatre.
Take Vicky Evans as Lana, the abused wife who brings disaster to three men in the narrative. Less willful and controlling than Saranne Curtin (previously reviewed), Evans seems victimized by her feelings and glimpses the consequences of her actions only when it's too late. The edge of self-parody in her Act 1 showpiece also earns sympathy and her dance skills remain strong.
Initially approaching the seduced-and-destroyed Angelo as a comic nerd, Arthur Pita eventually dances with a deep sense of the character's pain, but the change proves too abrupt and he seems merely creepy rather than truly threatening in the final scene.
Ewan Wardrop has no trouble seeming genuinely scary in the same scene when he plays Angelo, but his relaxed, one-of-the-gang demeanor makes no effect in Act 1--and, for all his technical strength, he can't dance in character. Pita can and so, of course, can Will Kemp, the original and (so far) unsurpassed embodiment of all facets of this complex role.