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Don't cry for Madonna: "Evita' has look of a hit

Will Evita revive the Hollywood musical?

The highly anticipated $70-million adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical, starring Madonna, Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Pryce, isn't due in theaters until Christmas Day. But Disney recently screened a 10-minute "work-in-progress" reel for critics _ the same clip that drew acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Believe the hype. Evita looks to be an epic-scale musical, employing thousands of extras, luscious wide-screen photography and lavish period detail. Director Alan Parker has composed the film's visuals with exacting care: On a purely physical level, the movie is stunning.

And at the center of it all is Madonna, stunning herself, looking uncannily like the real Eva Peron. She sings Don't Cry For Me, Argentina in a beautiful, soaring, goosebump-inducing contralto.

She's not the only one singing, either: Banderas (who plays Che Guevara) croons directly into the camera, as does Pryce (as Juan Peron). Based on the preview, Evita could bring back the art of singing at the movies. And it also could make Madonna what she's always wanted to be: a movie star.