EvitaPosted on: 29 September 2014 by Laurence Green
That epic 1978 Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Evita returns to the West End (Dominion Theatre) as powerful as ever seemingly undiminished by time.
The action begins with the announcement of Eva Peron’s untimely death at the age of 33 from cancer. Argentina is a country in mourning for a woman who attained the status of a saint. As the story progresses and we go back in time it becomes apparent what led to her being heralded as ‘the spiritual leader of the nation’.
As a young woman filled with ambitions to become a famous actress she moves to Buenos Aires to fulfil her dreams. The show does not hold back from suggesting she worked her way to the top by sleeping with the right people. But eventually she meets and marries Argentina dictator Juan Peron destined with Eva’s help to become president, and her meteoric rise to achieve extraordinary wealth, power and status is complete.
All of this is convey with precision and style, making clever use of simple set consisting of a few chairs, two movable staircases and some flying pillars. My only cavil is that at times the dialogue was inaudible due no doubt to a microphone problem.
Musically it feels like the show has had a modern makeover with Latin salsa and tango rhythms underscoring the well-known classic songs such as “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”, “On This Night of a Thousand Stars” and “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” and giving the musical a new foot tapping pulse helped by some splendidly staged dance sequences.
But for all its technical achievements it is the excellent cast, expertly directed by Bill Kenwright and Bob Tomson that really bring the show to life. Mathew Cammelle is a commanding presence as Juan Peron, the perfect stoic foil to Eva’s more gregarious personality. Marti Pellow (of Wet Wet Wet) smoulders on the stage as the broody Che Guevara, a character who reflects the voice of the people, and there is an engaging, beautifully sung performance by Sarah McNicholas as Juan Peron’s discarded mistress.
However the star of the show is undoubtedly Portuguese singer-songwriter Madalena Alberto as Eva, making the transitions from youthful teenager to frail and dying woman with remarkable and convincing case. Her energy, depth of character and ability to command the stage with her finely tuned singing voice leave an indelible impression.
This indeed is a production which lights up the West End and should enjoy the same level of success as when it was first staged!
Run until November 1, 2014
Box office: 0845 200 7982
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