Hull New Theatre – until 10th November 2018
Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams
Bill Kenwright’s production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita is a sumptuous affair, full of exquisite costumes, stunning scenery and soaring music. The audience at Hull New Theatre last night was thoroughly spoiled by the spectacle of this show.
This production of Evita feels very fresh and it is hard to believe that Evita had its first stage production in 1978. The production starts in a cinema in 1952 when the death of Eva Peron is announced and we then see her funeral at which Che (Glenn Carter) starts to take us back to the 1930’s when Eva is just starting out. We then follow her rise to fame and subsequent death.
Che is the narrator throughout the musical and Glenn Carter does a superb job as the storyteller, with a tinge of scorn to his story telling and contempt for the tale he is telling. His version of High Flying Adored was particularly heart felt.
Lucy O’Byrne is a powerful and believable Evita. Her portrayal of Evita in her illness was outstanding and totally believable, I felt her pain. Her quiet and pained delivery of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina was spine tingling. Mike Sterling as Peron is the perfect foil for Evita.
The music throughout was superb and huge credit needs to go to the Musical Director Anthony Gabriele and his very talented musicians. The music together with the scenery and the very effective lighting added wonderfully to the experience, I particularly enjoyed the smoky atmosphere of the Tango Club and Oscar Balmaseda’s wonderfully smarmy tango singer Magaldi.
Unfortunately there were some niggles with the sound as when the songs required layers of music from the principals and the chorus, it was often very difficult to hear the principals, particularly it seemed the end of words. The changing of scenery was also not quite as smooth as it should have been at times, I really don’t expect to see a member of the stage staff disappearing off the stage in a production of this calibre. I have to admit to also being a little upset that when taking their encore none of the cast directed applause to the musicians.
Niggles apart, this is a high quality production that would grace any West End stage, a feast for the eyes and the ears.