Evita Review at New Wimbledon Theatre
Evita on UK National Tour
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's 1970s Evita looks and sounds as vibrant as the day it was conceived. There are only a few musicals that can truly stand the test of time in terms of turning heads and Evita definitely comes under that bracket.
It's not that the production is astonishingly insightful. It just plays to is strengths as a crowd pleaser. This was the first night at the New Wimbledon Theatre on its current tour and there's always that extra edge and feeling of anticipation when delivered to a new audience.
The story of a fatherless, working class woman with nothing but her own ambition to go to the bright lights of Buenos Aires to find her fame and happiness is a great part for an actress. Former Wicked star Emma Hatton absolutely revels in the role, taking great delight in the sheer scale of her character's ambition and alluring quality. The songs are there to be enjoyed for all their magnificent mix of soft shoe shuffle and soprano. Don't Cry For me Argentina is taken up for all its worth and after the meteoric man-eating rise of the heroine, Hatton plays her fall from illness with a real vulnerability in "You Must Love Me".
Evita's Strong Set Design and Narrative
The function of Che Guevara (played by Gian Marco) is to lurk on the edges of Eva's story as a kind of narrator and detractor of the populism of the Peron legacy. Marco plays it with an almost self-congratulatory modern kind of musical coolness, and for the most part, it works. The set is a slick set of stone pillars and requiems and balconies, the latter almost being emblematic of Eva's rise to the top and her ability to make her audience swoon. There's a nice undercurrent of snobbery running through the story too.
Kevin Stephen-James plays the President in an authoritative fashion, giving ample room for the First Lady's character to shine without being completely flounced by it. The second half of the show dips somewhat as it struggles to keep up the vibrancy in the face of Eva's failing health. There are some clever routines based on the country's central reserves being consumed or wasted while Evita promises a better life for all.
Evita Hits the Right Notes
Evita is a story of a woman that split opinion and captivated a nation. It has a resonance here that feels as bold as brass and all of the main leads carry it off with the support of a very disciplined ensemble. There aren't that many jokes but then this is not a pantomime. Just enjoy the soundtrack. It delivers without ever getting too much sonically.