Tuesday, 23 September 2014

REVIEW: Evita at the Dominion theatre

Evita returns to the West End stage nearly 36 years after making its debut in London, the production ran from 1978 to 1986 and a Broadway production opening in 1979. The musical was revived in 2006 with . The touring production comes into a newly refurbished Dominion Theatre for a limited run of 55 performances, playing until 1st November. 

The show tells the story of the Argentinian and ‘leader of the people’, Eva Peron (Madalena Alberto). Starting when she is just 15 and going through to her death at 33; it shows her raise to fame, her struggles and battles with illness and her romantic life. 

Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score is one of the most iconic in the world, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina has to be up there as one of the most famous musical theatre hits. Although the score sometimes has some strange moments and often shows resemblance to some of the other Rice and Webber shows, its glorious and powerful. The orchestrations are wonderful in this production, beating straight into your heart. Although, it would have been nice for them to have turned up the microphones of the actors because we struggled to hear them for half the show. David Steadman (Musical Director) has really lit a fire under the music, bringing it up to date and filling the huge Dominion Theatre. 

I thought the visual stylistics of the production were quite innovative, although it was pretty basic I thought it worked. The set is the same as the touring production and taking into account its playing a limited run of 55 performances, its fine. I actually really liked how Matthew Wright has designed it, occasionally it seemed to be a little jolty but overall it was very elegant. One thing I particularly liked was the beginning, starting with the announcement of Eva Peron’s death in a cinema was a great way to enter the production. However I would have liked to have seen that be set up earlier on, perhaps when we walk into the theatre. 

Madalena Alberto’s interpretation of Eva is beautiful, I particularly liked how she brought an innocence and naivety to the role. I think the obviously choice would be to make Eva a bit of a bitch but she stays very clear from that, she makes the character likable. Instead of someone who is climbing her way to the top you see a poor girl who just wants a chance to be successful and do what she wants to do, not what society wants her to do. Having the Aristocrats there when Eva is the presidents wife is a really great way of displaying how Eva wants to break barriers between the classes. Alberto also sings this role beautifully, her ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ was heartbreaking and inspiring. She shows a vulnerability in the role which adds so much depth to the production. 

I was left very underwhelmed by Marti Pellow in the role of Che, in some of the big numbers he fails to sing the notes and struggles to keep up with the rest of the cast. Che holds a lot of vital information to understanding the show as he is the narrator of the production, unfortunately Pellow fails to articulate properly so the information is lost. This piece is far to big for Marti Pellow and he falls flat. 

Ben Forster provides incredible and effortless vocals in the role of Magaldi, even though the role is quite small he manages to really capture you and you remember him. I also saw a spark between him and Eva later on in the production so that added some more interesting layers to the plot, a fantastic actor. 

Sarah McNicholas is featured as Peron’s Mistress and she manages to make you fall for her in the space of 2 minutes. Her voice was gorgeous in ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’, a beautiful performer. 

The ensemble in this show are incredibly strong, the numbers that they are featured in are the highlights of the show. Here at Pocket, we like to single out people who really captured our eyes but no one stood out, but not in a bad way! In a brilliant way! They have to be one of the strongest ensembles in the West End at the moment, they are the clue that holds this production together. The show would be nothing without them. 

This is a good production, although it has a few flaws they are easily forgiven by Madalena Alberto and the magnificent ensemble. This is only on for a short while so see this production before you miss it. Saying that though, I’m sure this will continue to tour for years to come. This is a glamorous and elegant production that will capture you heart, this is a classic story that will live forever. 

Rating: ★★

Evita is playing at the Dominion Theatre until 1st November 2015

Cast includes: Madalena Alberto, Marti Pellow, Matthew Cammelle, Ben Forster, Sarah McNicholas, Michelle Pentecost, Amira Matthews, Olive Robinson, Verity Burgess, Gemma Atkins, Lizzie Ottley, Joe McCourt, Joe Maxwell, Joel Elferink, Ryan Pidgen, Anthony Ray, Chris Stoddart, Callum Fitzgerald, David Burlin, Stuart MacIver, Peter McPherson, Joseph Connor, Jamie Tyler and Christopher Palmer.

Photo credit: Darren Bell

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