The final collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice returns to the West End, showcasing beautiful music in a production that needs a bit of a lift.
Even just reading about Eva Perón’s life in the programme, this is a story that deserved to be told on stage, her life was so extraordinary that leaves you wondering what she could have achieved if it had not been for her untimely death at the age of 33. Thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical, her story and passion is brought wonderfully to life.
But it has to be said that Bill Kenwright and Bob Thomson’s production is in desperate need of a revamp to bring the sparkle back into the musical, as despite the cast’s strong efforts it feels slightly tired and takes a while for the audience to settle into the story.
Evita explores the life of Eva Perón as she transforms from an up and coming actress to the wife of of Argentine President Juan Perón as seen partly through the eyes of Che – a revolutionary who seeks to explain why she didn’t achieve much for her people at all.
The musical features some of the most memorable music composed for a musical and this production does a strong job of showcasing songs such as a haunting rendition of ‘Requiem for Evita’ , ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ and of course the iconic ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’. There is such a wide range of almost operatic songs that it is a shame that the story is not brought out enough to match the music.
Where the production really struggles is the characterisation of many of the characters, with exception of Evita and Perón, preferring to highlight the music rather than balancing this with the drama and the fascinating life that Eva led and the relationships she had with people. The audience can also never truly get to grips with the political undertones that the story has which would have given the production more depth.
However, there are still some absolutely stunning moments to be enjoyed. Not least the gorgeous staging of ‘Don’t Cry for me Argentina’ which has Evita on the balcony, making those in stalls look upwards as if they were actually in the crowd while she was speaking to the people. It is absolutely breathtaking and haunting to watch – also thanks to Emma Hatton’s performance of the song. Meanwhile, ‘The Actress Hasn’t Learned’ also has a nice touch of vulnerability about it, stripping away some of Evita’s more hostile personality.
The overall vibe of the production is passionate, with Bill Deamer’s choreography sharp and reflecting the Argentine spirit perfectly – thanks to a combination of the Argentine tango mixed with more contemporary elements that work extremely well. But yet somehow the pacing of the show feels slightly tired and worn out like it needs something extra to invigorate it.
Emma Hatton as Evita delivers a gutsy and passionate performance – really showcasing her more brutal side as seen in the way she handle’s Perón’s mistress in determination to gain power and influence, but equally her growing compassion towards the people of Argentina. Vocally she is superb, able to contrast the many different sides to her character through the music such as ‘I’d be Surprisingly Good For You’ or ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ .
In contrast to this Gian Marco Schiaretti as Che seems to be slightly stiff in his portrayal, skulking around the stage and scowling menacingly might perfectly capture the character’s attitude but he needs to add a bit more depth to the character than that – particularly through his vocals. The rest of the cast are strong and provide great support throughout.
Overall, the production is musically strong both in the songs and the performances, as well as making you want to find out more about Eva’s life and what she achieved as the First Lady of Argentina. But it is just lacking that ‘wow’ factor that would take the production to another level.
Evita will play at the Phoenix Theatre until the 14th October. To book tickets visit: ATG Tickets, Ticketmaster.co.uk, Discount Theatre.com, See Tickets.com, Last Minute.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Love Theatre.com, Theatre People.com and UK Tickets.co.uk.