Evita returns to The Lowry
It is a story that has a whole new significance in these modern times, political couple appear to turn their backs on high society in favour of the common man (the “Descamisados”) and divide opinion on their intentions.
Evita is an iconic Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice musical based on the life of Argentina’s Eva Peron who defied class and gender to become loved and hated in equal measure. Many people have played the part from Julie Covington and Elaine Paige in the 70s, Madonna in the 1990s and now Emma Hatton in a 2017 tour that stopped at the Lowry Theatre this week.
All the songs are here, delivered in a slick, brilliantly staged production including Another Suitcase, Another Hall, A New Argentina and of course Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. Interestingly You Must Love has been incorporated into the stage version although it was only written in 1996 for the Alan Parker film.
The cast do a credible job as an ensemble and some of choreographed numbers are breath-taking, notably Buenos Aires and Rainbow High. The sets are amazing from the opening, Eva lying in state as a country mourns to the Casa Rosada as he nation’s sweetheart addresses her supporters, this is clearly big budget and benefits from this greatly.
Gian Marco Schiaretti is brilliant as Che, the narrator and foil to most of Eva’s actions, the role that Antonio Banderas most certainly made his own in the movie version. Che presents the other side to the Peron propaganda but who you believe is most definitely left to each audience member to decide, a refreshing approach to a potentially difficult political story.
Understudy George Arvidson took on the duties of playing Peron, Eva’s President and sometimes hapless husband, excellently. The awkwardness of Peron and his wife was delicately played as she gently pushes him further and further into the spotlight and power.
Oscar Balmaseda may only have short stage time as Magaldi, the first of Eva’s many useful boyfriends but when he is on the stage he shines, bringing much needed comedy and light relief to an incredibly fast paced production.
As mentioned earlier, Emma Hatton takes on the lead role of Eva Peron and she received a standing ovation, I overheard people leaving proclaiming that she was the best Evita they had ever seen. I’m afraid this was a little lost on me. She most definitely performed well in the second half, playing the political Eva and the dying Eva strongly but her first half was weak, in my opinion, as she attempted the calculating and, let’s face it, tarty Eva. I felt that her interpretation lacked the edgy “predator loose on the men of Buenos Aires” vibe and she was clearly struggling with some of the songs, such as Buenos Aires and I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You.
The pace of the show is pretty fast and it probably helps if you’re a little up to speed with the overall premise, there was a poor young lad in front of me who looked baffled for the most part, however the sheer scale of the production is fantastic and you will be singing the songs for days afterwards.
By Chris Park for Canal St Online