Touring – reviewed at Malvern Theatres
When a show really blows you away, mentally and physically, it’s a rare and beautiful thing. Evita, one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classics, has been on my radar for years and I have reviewed it on many occasions in the past. However, last night’s incarnation at Malvern Theatres may have just trumped the lot with a cast de force, spectacularly slick choreography (Bill Deamer has done a wonderful job) and a live orchestra which in my humble opinion is unbeatable.
The story charts the rise and fall of real-life icon, Eva Peron. With Lloyd Webber’s stunning composition and Tim Rice’s innovative lyrics which have stood the test of time, this musical ‘take’ on a historical figure is moving, intriguing and intricate. Subtle tongue-in-cheek humour lightens the often heavy mood and powerful performances bowl over the full house.
As we see Eva (Lucy O’Byrne) manipulating a myriad men on her quest to conquer Buenos Aires, there’s eloquent and bitter narration from Che (Glenn Carter), a revolutionist. Eva eventually gets her man, when she presents herself to Peron (a military man who is also on the climb as he heads up Argentina) as a woman who would be ‘surprisingly good’ for him. The story, though life-affirming in its own way is not without its tragic twist.
O’Byrne positively shines as Eva, it’s a role that is seemingly made for her as it’s such a perfect fit. Her vocal ability pushes boundaries as the intensity and immense power of her voice increases with every musical number. Her chemistry with both Carter which is brooding and stalking and Peron (Mike Sterling) – which carries a more passionate and fiery determination – is palpable.
Carter’s diction is on point throughout, a greater storyteller I’ve yet to see in this particular show. Sterling has magnificent stage presence which lends itself brilliantly to the role of Peron. The entire cast should be proud of their accomplishment, Oliver Slade particularly stands out as one of the ministers, likewise Verity Burgess grabbed my attention and held it in all of the numbers in which she was involved.
Two of my personal favourite songs were as memorable as I hoped they would be, ‘Peron’s Latest Flame’ and ‘Rainbow High’ – such rousing melodies with engaging performances to match. O’Byrne handled ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ like a dream, the crescendo literally blew me backwards in my seat. Each musical number has something different to offer, though and there isn’t one that doesn’t belong.
Don’t miss the opportunity to catch the show at a theatre near you, it is a true masterpiece and the cast are treating it as such.
Photo credits: Pamela Raith