Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Review: Evita at the Dominion Theatre

Dominion Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 22nd September 2014

Back for its third West End run, this time it is Bill Kenwright who is behind Evita's West End return. I only saw Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's iconic musical for the first time several months ago during its recent UK tour which starred Madalena Alberto as Eva and Marti Pellow as Che, both of whom have reprised their performances for this limited West End engagement.

Centring around Eva Peron, the wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Peron, we see Eva's early life before she finds wealth and power. Eva becomes a public icon and is heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’ by the Argentine people.

Evita famously begins with members of the public learning of Eva's death during an interrupted cinema screening. The piece takes you on quite a journey and as the show concludes you feel as if you have been taken along every step of Eva’s life.

I am not afraid to admit that I adore Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s score; its tenderness is entrancing whilst the climaxes are spectacular. The orchestra sound divine in the newly refurbished Dominion Theatre. Even if you have no idea what is going on (you’re not alone) it’s impossible not to find moments of the score captivating. 

Alberto joins a stellar list of incredible actresses who have taken on the role of Eva, most notably Elaine Paige who was in attendance at last night's press showing. Despite being impressed by Alberto's almighty vocal strength and technique, I failed to warm to her performance during act one. It wasn’t until the second half that she came into her own and won me over, performing with charm, elegance, strength and confidence.

She holds back beautifully during 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina', feeling every lyric and conveying every emotion with grace before letting rip during 'Rainbow High' and pulling at the heart strings with her emotional rendition of 'You Must Love Me'. 

Pellow plays Che who narrates the piece, reflecting the voice of the Argentine people. He has striking presence and appears to always give his all. However, I had concerns for his vocal strength. Pellow hits and holds the big notes but at times sounds tired and strained. 

Sarah McNicholas shines as the mistress who performs my favourite song in the show, 'Another Suitcase in Another Hall'. ITV Superstar winner Ben Forster also gives a strong performance as Agustin Magaldi, Eva’s first love. Once again Forster showcases tremendous versatility in his latest role, it’s just a shame the part isn't larger. 

One of the best things about Evita is that it doesn't drag on and on. Each act lasts under an hour. The design may look a little flimsy but it does its job for a limited London engagement. I am thrilled Evita has made a West End comeback; it is a glorious piece of hardcore operatic musical theatre which holds a special place in many people’s hearts.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Evita runs at the Dominion Theatre until Saturday 1st November 2014. Please visit www.dominiontheatre.com for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Darren Bell

No comments:

Post a Comment