REVIEW | Evita brings a taste of Argentina to Birmingham Hippodrome

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There’s something very distinct about hearing the names Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Yet there was something about Evita that didn’t quite ignite that spark in me that I expected.

 

Growing up falling in love with the beauty of Webber’s Phantom of the Opera and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, my expectations were high for Evita, but there was something this Argentinian production that didn’t quite resonate with me the same way that I’ve come to experience every time I listen to Phantom’s ‘All I Ask of You‘ or Joseph’s ‘Close Every Door’.

Eva Peron (Madalena Alberto) has gone from trying to make ends meet to becoming adored by the people of Argentina after marrying Juan Perón (Jeremy Secomb) and becoming the country’s First Lady, leading her to evolve into one of the most iconic women. But at the height of her power, she’s struck by ill health and passes away, and it’s here where the story begins.

There was so much in me that wanted to fall in love with this production, and maybe it’s just down to personal taste. After all, Evita has found great success it both its former West End residences and current UK tour, but I constantly felt myself wanting more from it; I desperately wanted to be swept up into Eva’s world, but I struggled to find that emotional connection.

Aesthetically, Evita is a visual feast; with clean set changes between the streets of Argentina to the dressing room of Eva, high-energy dance routines from the strong ensemble and clever lighting design show that at nearly 70, Andrew Lloyd Webber is still one of the leading names in musical theatre.

Of course, the musical numbers resonate with the audience whether you’ve seen the 90s movie starring Madonna or not, you can’t mistake the beauty behind Rice’s lyrics in Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, which Madalena Alberto performs with heartfelt gusto; while songs Goodnight and Thank You and I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You bring a playful side to the show. Perhaps the most powerful performance of the night came from Cristina Hoey, who delivered sublime vocals in Another Suitcase in Another Hall.

 

While personally, Evita isn’t among Andrew Lloyd Webber’s and Tim Rice’s strongest theatrical numbers, there’s no denying that it’s still very much a crowd-pleasing show. Combining Alberto’s vocals with Gian Marco Schiaretti’s impressive performance as Che, Evita has plenty of potential to please lovers of musical theatre, but for me, the visual aspect trumped the connection that I craved so deeply. That being said, this certainly isn’t the last of this classic that I’m sure will continue to enchant audiences across the country.

Evita runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, March 24. Find out more here.

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