The revival of 'Evita' at the Adelphi theatre is the first London production of the musical since the original opened in 1978. Evita is a fascinating quasi-biography of sorts of Eva Peron, who rose from obscurity to become the wife of the president of Argentina. She was reputed to have slept her way up the social ladder and along the way became a radio actress. She died in 1952 at age 33.
This Evita is unlike productions I have seen in design and direction. It will likely become the blueprint for future productions around the world. The production opens into a stunning set for a piazza in Buenos Aires. The set is built on a grand scale with huge balconies, tall windows and surrounding buildings seen in the distance and romantically lit to set the stage for the action and provides the perfect backdrop of the Argentine capital in the 1940s.
The music sounds new again in fresh orchestrations and features excellent ensemble singing and dancing with the audience enthusiastically applauding the “Buenos Aires” and “The Money Kept Rolling In" numbers. Each scene moves fluidly into one another and feels well paced. Elena Roger as Eva Peron hails from Argentina and provides an authentic presence to the proceedings with her accent. Despite being dwarfed in height by Philip Quast (Juan Peron), the actress has a powerhouse voice and smile so wide that it lights up the entire stage. Matt Rawle, as the narrator and on stage for much of the show, delivers a pop/rock vocal and energetic performance. Greg Castiglioni brings the right amount of humor to the cheesy role of the tango singer Magaldi, one of Eva’s first conquest up the social ladder, and Lorna Want adds the perfect measure of pathos to her one scene as Juan Peron’s mistress. I enjoyed their performances of “On This Night of a Thousand Stars” and “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”, respectively.
Heavy on tango dancing, the production makes use of the dance between military officers as they out tango one another for political power. The scene seems unusual, awkward and funny. The big number “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” doesn’t disappoint and is largely kept simple and performed on a balcony that moves out forward stage center. This is also the first stage production to include the song “You Must Love Me”, which was written for the 1996 movie version starring Madonna, and provides a touching moment between Eva and Juan in the second act.
The 2006 London Cast Recording of this production is available for download on iTunes or on CD in record and online retailers. Production photographs are used for illustration purposes only.