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A CurtainUp London Review
by Tim Sealey
Eva Duarte was born into relative poverty in Argentina and the story follows her journey from aspiring actress to first lady and wife of Juan Peron and the beloved 'princess' of the people. The story subsequently follows her debilitating health and the ultimate death of both Eva and the Peron Presidency. All this is helped along by the narrative use of the character of 'Che'. Although resembling Che Guevara, the analysis of this imitation, in my view, should be avoided and 'Che' be regarded simply as the voice of the people.
This is a fitting revival of a classic that succeeds in being both intimate and strikingly showy when it needs to be. There is nothing new or unique here but a warm and high quality version of the musical many will know with the most famous song 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina' remaining an excellent score of emotion and ardour. The production starts at a rather slow pace that is seemingly only bolstered with the arrival of Madalena Alberto as Eva. Alberto is fittingly the rock of this show and very much steals the adoration of the audience throughout replicating how Eva managed to capture the hearts of a nation. Alberto has a beautiful voice and doesn't put a foot wrong in what is one of the finest vocal performances on the West End in recent years. Her ability to project such fraught and puzzling emotions in such a vast space is hugely noteworthy.
Marti Pellow is perfectly suited to the role of 'Che' yet at times his presence feels quite incongruous to the overall look and feel of the piece. The narrative use of such a character is understandable but perhaps is now rather dated in its execution. The ensemble is excellent with special mention for Sarah McNicholas and her touching performance of 'Another Suitcase in Another Hall'. Bill Deamer's choreography is first class all devised wonderfully on top of an inspiringly adaptive set design of Matthew Wright.
This is certainly an enjoyable evening for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice fans and a worthy production with the audience full of standing ovations at the end. However this is not one that will play on the mind or instil in one anything of unique regard or lasting memory.
For Lizzie Loveridge's review of Evita in London in 2006 and a full song list go here.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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