Evita was a fantastic musical with a standout cast which managed to evoke emotional responses and finished with a lasting ovation from the audience.
One of the better known collaborations between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, Evita has a lot of great material, both musically and in terms of plot. This provides a good starting point, but the material only reaches its full potential with a truly talented actress playing Eva Peron. Madalena Alberto was spectacular. Her singing was faultless, and her acting, particularly towards the final scenes depicting Eva’s descent into critical illness, was arresting. Marti Pellow played Che creditably, and the strength of his voice was surprising – he held some incredibly long notes effortlessly throughout the musical. Mark Heenehan, playing Peron, was fantastic throughout the performance – his voice is so rich that it conveys gravitas and authority throughout.
There were some standout musical performances throughout the show. ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ was particularly arresting. Alberto stood on an elevated balcony sparkling from head to toe in a beautiful white dress, in front of an Argentinian banner, and you could have heard a pin drop in the theatre. Her voice fulfilled the breadth and depth in the song, with some musical flourishes which showed off the range and variety in her voice. ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ was also a great performance. A personal favourite song of mine, I had high expectations of it beforehand. Sarah McNicholas did not disappoint – her short performance of The Mistress perfectly balanced melancholic sadness and acceptance of her position. ‘Buenos Aires’ was also a fun upbeat number in the first act which had me dancing along even through the interval, and is now still stuck in my head. The ensemble (one of the larger ones that I’ve seen in a production) was on point both in their singing and dancing – numbers like ‘The Actress Hasn’t Learned’ and ‘Eva Beware of the City’ were visual spectacles of dance because of their ability. Special mention should also go to Nic Gibney, who played Magaldi with some caustic comments and melodramatic flourishes that kept me smiling through the first act.
The first act of the musical was marred a little by the fact that we were evacuated from the theatre about half way through due to a false alarm. It is a credit to the theatre that we were evacuated, and then back in our seats within fifteen minutes, specially considering the amount of people that were in the theatre. The actors resumed and there was no loss of pace to the action, with the musical continuing with aplomb.
There were times, particularly in the first act when it was hard to understand what Marti Pellow was singing. His enunciation was a little poor, and led to confusion particularly in the opening number within which he plays a large role. There were times when I felt like his voice was fighting against the orchestra, rather than working with it as he was drowned out a little. This did improve throughout the rest of the play, and by the end his singing was emotionally affecting and easy to understand.
There were moments in the second act that the musical lost a little of its pace, and I found my attention wandering a little. ‘And The Money Keeps Rolling In (And Out)’ was a little fractured – although I understood the gist of what the song was trying to say, there was so much going on on stage that I felt I missed the subtleties of some of the action. ‘Rainbow High’ also felt a little strange – with men dancing around carrying mirrors, I could understand that they were trying to emphasise the importance of her appearance as the heart of the nation, but the large props felt a little clumsy, and distracted from the music.
Evita is definitely a hit, and I would recommend that you see it while it is on its current run. Emotionally affecting and with superb music, it is not a show to miss.
Evita is showing at the Mayflower theatre until 19th October, and continues its UK tour into 2014.