Evita Review

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton –  until 21 Jan 2017.  Reviewed by Sharon MacDonald-Armitage

1940’s Buenos Aires sizzles to life at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre which welcomes Bill Kenwright’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musicalEvita.  Having originally opened in London’s West End in 1978 and over the years toured and returned to London a couple more times and toured yet again it is always a concern as to how fresh yet another dusted off tour might be. However, there are no obvious concerns with this current production.

Evita tells the rags to riches story of how Eva Peron an actress who caught the eye of and married Juan Peron the Argentinian President. Told often through the narration of Che (Gian Marco) who gives a solid performance in the role, we are taken through a journey of classic Webber tunes including the memorable “Oh What a Circus”, sang by Marco himself and “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”, beautifully delivered by Sarah O’Connor, but it is “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” which the audience wait patiently for. They are not disappointed. Emma Hatton is stupendous as Evita, her vocals are crisp, clear and perfect, her performance breath taking. She absolutely sparkles as she steps onto the balcony to deliver the iconic song. It is such a shame that there isn’t a clear moment for the audience to show their appreciation as there is no clear break after the song in which to do so. This was rectified however, with the ebullient applause for Hatton at curtain call.

Kevin Stephen-Jones has a beautiful voice and is convincing as a man totally in love with his wife. There are poignant and moving moments with a clear connection between him and Hatton making their character’s relationship believable.

With Latin choreography by Bill Deamer and a simple but dramatic set design by Matthew Wright there is an intense feel to the show.

The audience clearly enjoyed themselves something that was evident by the number of them singing the songs as they left the auditorium.  If you have not seen Evita before then do take a trip to the Mayflower Theatre before it moves on and if you have seen it before, still go as this show is fresh and an enjoyable evening out.