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Did critics cry for Evita at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre?

Jamie Lloyd directs the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical

The cast of Evita
© Marc Brenner

Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage

★★★★

"[Jamie Lloyd's] radical staging at the Open Air Theatre strips away all the glamour and passion that characterised Hal Prince's original version and, in a faded model, has adhered to most productions since. He – with one striking exception – chucks out the ballgowns and the wigs and keeps the staging simple."

"Over and over again, this is a production that surprises, and nowhere more so than in its conception of the leading trio of characters, all played by actors imported from over the Atlantic. Samantha Pauly handles the big numbers with confidence, but the most interesting things about her performance are round the edges... Trent Saunders makes Che, our guide to the show, not just cynical but furious."

Rosemary Waugh, Time Out

★★★★

"Forget everything you know about Evita: this one properly rocks. Gone are the romanticised shots of sun-soaked South America, sliced out are the filler numbers clogging the score and deleted is the simpering, blonde starlet. Instead, Lloyd's production wipes the gloss off Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's musical, creating a pumping, sped-up Evita edged with dirt, rust and grime."

"This is Lloyd doing what Lloyd does best: taking something a bit lumpy and trad and thwacking it into fast, furious and fun shape."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian

★★★

"It is all very far removed from Hal Prince's first staging and seems deliberately stripped of its finery. Perón appears in just a white slip for most of the show and Soutra Gilmore's stage is a set of stairs that neatly alludes to Perón's talent for social climbing."

"Pauly does not play Eva with the passion of Elaine Paige (the original stage Perón) nor the imperiousness of Madonna (in the 1996 film)."

"Pyrotechnics including confetti and coloured flares may give this Evita its entertainment factor and a sense of the grand, but it never quite has enough heart."

Julia Rank, The Stage

★★★★

"Entirely different to [Elena] Roger's raw country girl in Michael Grandage's 2006 production and bearing a strong resemblance to Eva Longoria as Gabrielle Solis in Desperate Housewives, the honey-voiced Pauly is an Evita for the social media age: very modern, thoroughly calculating and scarily precocious."

"Fabian Aloise's choreography is filled with chaotic energy and showcases a diverse ensemble; the lighting is full-on and sometimes overpowers the performers, and the orchestra plays with all the required vigour as befits the invariably lush musical offerings at the Open Air Theatre."

Nick Curtis, Evening Standard

★★★★

"Smashing. That's the word for this pared-down, muscular, expressive and explosive revival of Lloyd Webber and Rice's musical."

"None of it would work unless the musical numbers held up, of course. They do. "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" and "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" contain some of Lloyd Webber's simplest, sweetest melodies, and quietly devastating lyrics by Rice. OK, the supporting roles aren't all perfect, and Lloyd uses his cordite effects once or twice too often. But this is a terrific, radical revival with a career-making central performance. "

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