For any company, Evita is a musical that will be a challenging production. When your company is made up of performers from the ages of 14-19 – those challenges increase. Luckily Oxfordshire Youth Music Theatre have some talented young performers who are able to rise to those challenges brilliantly.
Director Ashley Harvey has delivered a stripped-back and clear production that allows his young cast no opportunity to hide but also gives them the perfect opportunity to shine – both the principals and the supporting chorus. Debbie Rose and Matt Winkworth are also to be praised for having prepared the vocal performances with such care and attention to detail. This is a score that is beyond most experienced adult singers – let alone those at the start of their singing careers.
Central to any production has to be performances of Eva and Che – and Eve Norris and George Readshaw exceeded my expectations as to what a teenager can achieve with such demanding roles.
Norris sings Don’t Cry for Me Argentina especially well – better, in fact, than I heard Elaine Paige sing it at the recent Oliviers Ceremony. There are parts of the role that don’t yet suit her voice fully – but she uses her technique well and delivers both vocally and dramatically.
Readshaw has a soft vocal tone that makes him a more understated Che than some performers but he still drives the show with a persuasive and intelligent portrayal. High Flying Adored is his strongest number – with a great control and power to his voice.
The rest of the cast acquit themselves well. I was particularly taken with Alice Nilsen’s sensitive and delicately acted performance of Another Suitcase in Another Hall – a fine moment indeed. There is also some very delivered choreography – under the expert guidance of Joanne Cook and Kirstie Beer.
This is a production which exceeded my (already quite high) expectations and I am certain that OYMT will continue to be providing the West End with new cast members over the coming years – just as they have with performers such as Oliver Tompsett, Anthony Hansen and Natasha Marsh.