Evita at the Churchill Theatre

Evita
Evita at The Churchill Theatre

Evita has either been touring or in the West End for a few years now but for some reason I haven’t seen it. Luckily I was able to put this right last night at The Churchill Theatre.

Evita tells the true life story of Eva Peron and her rise to fame, as narrated by Che. We meet Eva in 1934 when Eva persuades a young tango singer by the name of Magaldi to take her to Buenos Aires. When she is there she begins to rise in importance by sleeping with men of increasing standing until finally meeting Peron and rising to become the first lady of Argentina.

Evita production shotLucy O’Byrne plays Eva and faces the challenge of playing her over a period of 18 years. O’Byrne rises admirably to this challenge and the youthful Eva you see in 1934 is unrecognisable as the determined woman who sings ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,’ and a further contrast on Eva’s death bed displaying fragility yet resolution of mind. O’Bryne’s rendition of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ had the audience in a reverence silence however it wasn’t just this iconic moment that O’Bryne’s star quality was evident, her rendition of ‘Rainbow High’ was powerful and left the audience in no doubt as to why the people of Argentina were eating out of Eva’s hand.

The rest of the cast were of an equally high calibre. Glenn Carter plays Che and his rock voice does this role justice and adds grit to the role. Mike Sterling plays Peron, a hard part as he is constantly on stage with Eva who by the very nature of the show outshines him but he portrays Peron’s love and genuine compassion for his wife well whilst trying to lead the country. My only point of criticism would be that I didn’t understand the drive behind ‘Another Suitcase In Another Hall,’ sung by Peron’s mistress, Christina Hoey. It was sang beautifully but the emotion needed to be more apparent.

Evita production shotThe ensemble bring life to the stage whenever they appear. I particularly enjoy the moments that they play the working classes, able to let their hair down and dance. Bill Deamer’s choreography with an Argentinian flavour at these moments really shines. The contrast in these high energy numbers were well placed against the numbers with the upper class and military which was all clipped and precise.

The set was deceptively simple with moving staircases and balconies, meaning O’Byrne was able to deliver the iconic moment from the balcony as Eva Peron did. The direction by Bill Kenwright and Bob Tomson utilised these levels well. I particularly enjoyed the use of the balconies and stairs during ‘Goodnight and Thank You’ as one by one, Eva’s former loves descended the stairs only to gaze back up at her.

This current tour of Evita is well worth seeing. With O’Byrne giving a star turn as Eva, interesting and contrasting choreography a clever and well utilized set it is a classy production of this well loved musical.

 

Evita is playing at The Churchill Theatre until Saturday 28th July. To find out more about Evita and where it is playing next visit the website.

If you enjoyed this review you might also like my review of Titanic the Musical, Heathers and Knights of the Rose.

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