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Evita (Tour - Sunderland)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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This touring production of the West End classic pulls out all the stops with an elaborate set, large cast and slick dance moves but it is the leading lady who manages to carry the weight of the production on her shoulders and is still standing proud at the end.

The life of Argentina’s Eva Perón is played out in the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice charting Eva’s early life, career, rise to power and untimely demise.

The first act moves along slowly, a long introduction to the end of Eva’s life before switching to her teenage years and following her short 33 years to the end again.

You feel little empathy for Eva (Rachael Wooding) during the first act with her shrill voice clashing amongst the deepness of husband-to-be, dictator Peron’s (Mark Heenehan). Che (the BBC Any Dream Will Do’s Seamus Cullen) lurks around the sets as the narrator but has little vocal presence.

Yet the opening of the second act is breathtaking with an excellent rendition of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” from Wooding, no shrill tones, just a well enunciated soulful performance - we finally understand why Argentina fell in love with their Evita.

Matthew Wright’s sets are outstanding and the lighting by Mark Howett adds depth and drama to each scene, particularly the moving balcony and full length pillars being well used.

The ensemble work very well together, slick dancing and an excellent chorus, if a little underused.

Special mention to Carly Bawden for the excellent version of audience favourite, “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”.

A stellar performance from the show’s leading lady pulls this performance together and she deserves all the applause she received; carrying the weight of the performance on her shoulders, Wooding manages, by the end, to convince the audience they too should love Argentina’s Evita


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