I’ve just come back from the current touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1978’s biopic musical based on the life of Eva Peron, EVITA.
From the outset the production shows that no expense has been spared (a rarity in touring shows) with a huge cast – half of which are made out of a voiceless local ensemble and a chorus of children, stunning pieces of set and a stunning orchestration. Abigail Jaye and Mark Powell lead the cast as Eva and Che with aplomp and confidence with Jaye’s faultless vocals throughout the show with (unsurprisingly) Don’t Cry For Me Argentina being a stand out point with the audience providing the applause and cheers that the sound effects guys play over the end! At times Powell’s Che doesn’t have the power that we would expect from him, but he too is faultless throughout his omnipresent state in the show.
Mark Heenehan plays Peron with authority and Sasha Rans almost steals the show with her portrayal of the Mistress and her absolutly stunning rendition of Another Suitcase in Another Hall. The cast and ensemble all play their parts with seemingly no effort though the local ensemble sometimes lack what the others give (though to give them their due it was their first time doing it with an audience tonight – same with the children – and I’m sure as the run continues they’ll improve).
The plot is complex (if you don’t know the story of Eva Peron before hand), and the direction though mostly clear has a few moments when things seem a bit confused. Luckily the strength of the cast though kept me engaged and so I failed to drift off. There are also a number of spectacular dance numbers and millions (maybe an exagaration) of costume changes – some in such unbelievably short amounts of time. The set is very effective with balconies and archways forming many different locations. Huge well dones to the lighting designer for the small, yet effective lights in the columns that transform the arches quickly and make them feel like whole new pieces of set!
Overall this is a fantastic show. The staging is brilliant and the cast is faultless. Only criticisms would be that following the plot without prior knowledge can cause you to get a bit lost, but such is the story of Eva Peron. This is the show’s final stop on it’s tour so worth going to see it if you have the chance.
Evita is on at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 24th September 2011.
Tickets can be booked online.