Reviewed by Linda Pickford
What a brilliant night of entertainment was had by all at last night’s opening performance of Evita. With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice how could it fail? This production by Bill Kenwright was gripping from start to finish. The set designs by Matthew Wright were outstanding and flowed seamlessly from act to act.
The 40-year-old musical is based loosely on the true story of the life of Eva Peron. Born as the fifth child of Juana Ibaruren and Juan Duarte she went from a secure home to poverty when her father returned to his legal wife. He did however leave a legal document declaring fatherhood and therefore entitling the children to take his name. Eva wanted to be an actress so at the age of 15 she left to go to Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. Slowly she clawed her way up to become a local radio star. In 1944 an earthquake occurred and she met Juan Peron at a fundraising gala. He was a successful Army General and politician. She became his mistress and finally his wife in 1945. She was interested in local politics and with his help and guidance transformed herself into an activist for the poor and disadvantaged. Some say she also helped herself to riches along the way. The mass population took to her greatly and she worked long hours establishing the Eva Foundation to help the poor and homeless. She died at the early age of 33.
The story of Eva Peron is told through a narrator, in this instance Glenn Carter playing the part of Che Guevara. Che was an Argentine born Marxist Revolutionary who later moved to Cuba. In this musical he tells the story of the struggles within the country. I must say I found him to be an immensely powerful presence on the stage with an excellent vocal ability.
Lucy O’Byrne is the leading lady, a role she carries out extremely well with increasingly powerful vocal performances aided wonderfully by Mike Sterling as Peron. A forceful man with a loving side to him.
This is a very strong production with a more than able cast. They gel together beautifully. The addition of the local PlymKids Theatre Company was lovely.
I enjoyed my evening immensely as I usually do in our lovely Theatre Royal. It is in an excellent position in Plymouth City Centre with more than ample car parks and restaurants in easy reach. The well-known songs including “Oh What a Circus, I’d be Surprisingly Good for You, and of course Don’t Cry for me Argentina” were astounding.
The Plymouth audience welcomed and enjoyed the evening with many standing and applauding at the end. A great night.
Tickets cost from £14 to £42 (booking fees may apply).
Evita is at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth from 14-18 August 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.theatreroyal.com or call the box office on 01752 267222.
Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, PL1 2TR | 01752 267222