Evita returned to the West End last night (21 June 2006, previews from 2 June) after more than 20 years, with a new Eva, Argentinian Elena Roger, making her mark on the title role as the show’s original star, Elaine Paige, watched on from the stalls.

Evita is based on the life and times of Eva Peron, the second wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron. It chronicles her life as one of Argentina’s most complex and powerful public figures, against a backdrop of political unrest, until her death of cancer aged 33 in 1952. Roger is joined in the cast of Michael Grandage’s reinvention of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1978 musical by Philip Quast as Juan Peron and Matt Rawle as narrator Che Guevara (See News, 30 Jan 2006).

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For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer was on hand at the Adelphi Theatre, where the first night audience included stars of sport, music and television as well as theatre. Amongst the guests were: Rod Stewart, Penny Lancaster, Elaine Paige, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Graham Norton, Angus Deayton, Anneka Rice, Cilla Black, Claire Sweeney, Nigel Harman, Jenny Seagrove, Sally Ann Triplett, Nigel Planer, Cameron Mackintosh, Laura Michelle Kelly, Angela Rippon, David Frost, Susannah Fellows, Michelle Collins, Carole Caplan, interior designer Nicky Haslam, rugby player Lawrence Dallaglio, Chris Wright (chairman of Chrysalis and London Wasps), Mark Nicholas (TV cricket presenter) and Marc Almond (former Soft Cell lead singer).

The musical premiered, with Elaine Paige playing Eva, at the West End’s Prince Edward Theatre in 1978 where it ran for seven years. In 1996, Alan Parker’s film version starred Madonna, Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas. In addition to the original score – which includes classics such as “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” - Grandage’s new production features, for the first time on stage, the Oscar-winning “You Must Love Me”, which was written especially for Parker’s film and became a Top Ten single.

-by Terri Paddock