Review: Evita at the New Theatre, Cardiff

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Oh what a circus, oh what a show!” – Eternal lyrics from Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s musical masterpiece, Evita; lyrics which are as suitable describing this work of theatrical alchemy as they are a part of it! The show to which these claims apply, Bill Kenright’s touring production of Evita starring  Portuguese actress, Madelena Alberto as Eva, Wet Wet Wet star Marti Pellow as Che and voice of the Teletubbies (!) Mark Heenehan as Juan Peron. Currently touring the UK, Evita charts the rise and fall of the Argentine first lady Eva Peron, through the upheaval of 20th century, fascist Argentina.

Leading lady, Madelena Alberto gives an emotion filled, yet feisty performance – her transformation from a needy teenager to the cancer ridden Argentine first lady is both convincing and emotive. Alberto’s voice throughout is excellent, her renditions of Evita’s ‘big belters’ are faultless, as is her tender, fluid and incredibly musical delivery of ‘You must love me’.  Alberto’s acting is even more astonishing than her voice! Her portrayal of the transition from the young, energetic and excitable Eva Duarte, through to the regal ‘Rainbow High’ woman of the people, is perfect. Alberto’s rendition of ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ demonstrated perfectly the combination of blinding vocals, fantastic acting and the dominating, yet open stage presence with which she is graced. I will not hesitate to say that Madelena Alberto in Evita, represents one of the finest leading ladies in any recent production of a musical!

Marti Pellow had a somewhat shaky start, his rendition of Oh what a circus’ rocked slightly in tempo and timing which took a little away from the dramatic impact of the beginning of the first act. Any misconceptions that this may have produced however were soon blown away. Pellow peaked in act two; his performance of ‘High flying adored’ was both beautifully sung and wonderfully acted – it’s safe to say that this was a real highpoint of the show. Likewise, The Money kept rolling in’ and Waltz for Eva and Che’ were sublime. Overall, Pellow gave a tremendous performance which just kept getting better – a recurring theme throughout this production it would seem.

Nic Gibney’s  performance as Magaldi throughout Evita was a joy to behold, filled with just the right balance of wit and resent, coupled with a fantastic voice – Gibney’s performance added significantly to the production as a whole. Similarly, Sarah McNicholas’ Another suitcase in another hall’ was spellbinding, and on most levels, impeccable. As a whole, the ensemble proved itself very flexible; the transition between upper class Argentines and the ‘Descomisados’ was slick and convincing. Ensemble dance in the likes of Buenos Aires’ was also highly proficient. The orchestra, though small performed wonderfully, and where they lacked in numbers they made up for with ‘big’ sounding melodies soaring from the pit. The set, despite its minimalism was very effective, with very clever use of positioning and lighting to make a little go a long way.

Largely, this touring Evita provides a wonderful couple of hours in the theatre – it is safe to say that the class of acting really makes this show. All lead roles were sublime and the ensemble fantastic. If you haven’t seen Evita yet, I wholeheartedly suggest that you catch this production – booking until June this year.

A sound 8/10 for Evita!

Tickets and tour dates available from the website

 

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