The show was written by Tim Rice with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber it covers the last seventeen years of Eva Peron's life, starting at sixteen and her first taste of opportunity to better her standing in life, using men to reach ever higher circles in Argentinian society in the 1930's and 40's until her death from cancer in 1952 at the age of thirty three.
Five Towns Theatre closed their last show Peter Pan at The Rep in Stoke on Saturday 25th of May 2019, to open with Evita some twenty four days later is truly remarkable, they keep doing this and might I add to a very high standard, no short cuts. There are many cross over players between the two groups who had roles in both. Amazing dedication.
I will state for the record I'm not a fan of Lloyd Webber Musicals. That said regardless of originator it is the production, music, sound, lighting and cast performances that I'm appraising.
Kia Matthews as Eva, had the unenviable task of filling the shoes of one of the Iconic Musical Female lead roles which she did admirably, the light and shade in her voice was lovely, she carried herself almost regally at times, her costumes and in particular her wigs were outstanding.
Jordan Harrison as the shrewd and ruthless Peron, soon realises what a political asset he has in Eva, there was a real tenderness at times in their relationship which they both played well, nice interplay with the duets as well.
Andrew Turner as Che (Guevara), the narrator of the show, interjected himself in and out of the action really well, a very well controlled wide ranged singing voice, gave us some lovely duets with Eva, setting the tone of a lot of the scenes with his facial expressions alone in some cases before a word was said.
Molly Joynson as Mistress to Peron, her lovely soprano voice shone in Another Suitcase in Another Hall and showed its strength as it powered out at the end of A New Argentina.
Ben Birkett as Magaldi, again brings a control and presence to his role, the eventual disdain from Eva as they meet again years later, about him still doing his same old act and his swift cutting reply as to her doing the same, was a window into the complexity of past relationships, especially with the knowledge of hindsight.
The whole, very busy and quick changing ensemble, were a credit to the show, slick, enthusiastic, exuberant and vibrant when required, equally so, dour and sombre as required. Five Towns always seem to do good crowds on stage. Excellent work ethic throughout, all there for one another and the team.
They danced with a passion and zeal capturing the heat of Buenos Aries in this turbulent time in its history, good lively choreography and movement throughout by Ed Costello, The Art of the Possible, worked very well visually as did the big full cast dance numbers. Lighting, costumes superb, props and scenery were very slickly presented and changed.
The ten piece band under the Musical Directorship of Keith Ragdale really hit the spot for me, a total endorsement of the much improved sound at the Rep, every subtle musical nuance, every instrument came across superbly mixed at a perfect level to hear everything said or sang over the music, the band almost had as many changes of instrument as the cast had costume changes.
Producers/Directors/Choreographer Keith Ragdale, Edward Costello and Abby Evans are a close team and it shows, they work well together to bring top class shows to the audience.