Evita (Southampton - tour)
A "strong production" of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical at the Mayflower Theatre
Evita is certainly one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's finest. Its account of the life of Eva Peron is absorbing. Perhaps it rushes through the events of her life. However, the contradictory - and disputed - portrayal of Eva is interesting to follow, and Madalena Alberto's performance is superb.
She grows from the ambitious vixen in "Buenos Airies" to the majestic saint she presents herself as in "Don't Cry for Me Argentina". Alberto's highlight, however, is during Eva's decline in health and her rendition of "You Must Love Me" is heart-rending. The only issue is her shrieky pronunciation of the vowels on the high notes at times.
The Bill Kenwright tour is competent to say the least. The set is basic and leaves the cast to fill the stage as much as possible. It does, however, present Argentina through the architecture of the arches, columns, balconies and staircases. The music is loud and clear, and the cast perform their roles effectively.
Together with his masterful voice Mark Heenehan has a commanding presence as Juan Peron. Both Sarah McNicholas as the Mistress and Nic Gibney as Magaldi give clear and stunning renditions of "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" and "On This Night of a Thousand Stars".
There is one thing, however, that knocks this production down a notch. Che is a demanding role that is ever present during the musical, and pop singer Marti Pellow struggles to hold a lot of the notes. Also, much of his acting consists of posturing whilst striding around the stage. Nevertheless, this is a strong production of Evita and most of the cast are worth seeing.
- David Jobson