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Evita (Tour - Birmingham)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Oh what a performance, oh what a show! - Rachael Wooding’s performance as the infamous Eva Peron is the backbone of this reincarnation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's biographical and historical masterwork.

Wooding’s vocals soar in what is arguably Lloyd Webber's finest score, even over taking his most famous work, Phantom of the Opera in its theatricality.

The finesse that is embodied by Rachael Wooding allows us as an audience to understand Argentina’s fascination with this historical figure and the way in which she charmed a nation, and the world.

A strong ensemble support Wooding’s star turn with their clear skill in working closely as a chorus and provide thrills in their dance talent. If only we had been given more of a chance to see more of the choreography, which was unmistakably sparse and sometimes altogether missing when it should be present, we would have been able to enjoy a little more of the Latino flair that Webber’s score provides.

Special mention goes to Carly Bawden with her heartbreaking rendition of Another Suitcase in Another Hall, which is delivered with clarity and soul.

The role of Che, the narrator of the piece, is taken on by Any Dream Will Do’s Seamus Cullen. Whilst Cullen’s arrogance translates well to the characterisation of Che, his vocal talent and frankly over the top acting sadly does not and makes for an unsatisfying portrayal of the role.

The fascinating parallels that ‘Evita’ conjures between contemporary society’s fixation with celebrity, explicitly in connection with the story of Lady Diana, is interesting to reflect upon; especially when considering the effect of celebrity on an individual once they achieve their desired shot at fame.

Matthew Right’s design of dramatic pillars and sliding balcony’s looks fantastic once stationary, however, the ambling and clumsy execution of the transition of scenes-especially when crew member simply walk on stage to move pieces of scenery- can make the production values teeter on the edge of amateur at points.

There is no denying that the main draws of the production is its leading lady, stellar ensemble and its famous score.

- Ben Wooldridge


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