Churchill Theatre Bromley – until Saturday 28 July 2018
Reviewed by Elizabeth J Smith
From West End to Rainbow Tour
Evita first opened in the West End in 1978, 40 years ago, and made a star of Elaine Paige. It tells the story of a poor illegitimate child, Eva Duarte, who dreamed of stardom, she achieved more than anyone would imagine.
After leaving home and arriving in Buenos Aires she forges a career as an actress and radio star. After a devastating earthquake hits the town of San Juan, Eva attends a charity concert and meets, the also ambitious, Colonel Juan Domingo Peron. Together they rise through the military and social ranks to become Argentina’s President and First Lady.
Eva’s philanthropy earned her the love of the people, while behind the scenes she was feathering her own nest by laundering money through her charity. Her life was cut short at the age of 33 when she died of cancer. She remains, more than a half a century after her death, an icon.
Lucy O’Byrne did a superb job portraying this champion of the people, her excellent vocal range and superb diction meant you could follow the story with ease. Her acting skills also left you in not doubt that there was an ambitious side to Eva, using any method to get ahead or dismiss any rival in her way without a second glance. Her rendition of Don’t Cry for me Argentina stirred real emotion from the audience, combined with the beautiful gown she wore and the simple set made this a show stopper moment.
Mike sterling who played Eva’s husband and president of Argentina Juan Peron, also delivered a stunning performance. With his deep velvety vocals and reserved military feel, his performance only proved how different the characters were and why their relationship was often frowned upon. I’d be so good for you demonstrating how their symbiotic relationship served them both.
Che, the narrator of the story, played by Glenn Carter, open with Oh what a circus expresses his disdain for the couple. Glenn’s facial expressions and reactions as the story unfolds left you in no doubt how Che felt about the situation.
Christina Hoey, the mistress, performed Another Suitcase In Another Hall with such emotion it made my spine tingle. Beautifully sung Oscar Balmaseda, Magaldi, portrayed the slightly seedy night club singer with style and humour.
The company created all the sections of society, upper classes, lower classes and military with excellent choreography by Bill Deamer, with the regimented movement of the military, the stiffness of the upper classes and the Tango feel of the people.
The show moved at a great pace, with effortless scene changes and wonderful costumes. The whole performance evoked real emotion from the audience.
Eva Peron’s fear was that she would be forgotten but while Evita can enthral audiences as this one did her name will live on.