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Evita review at Adelphi London

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When Elena Roger appears as glamorous Eva Peron on the balcony of the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, she is preparing to sing one of the most famous songs ever written. It is an image that left a huge impression on those who saw it in the original West End production and now musical theatre history is being made 28 years on with this much-anticipated revival.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s final collaboration was so different in style and context to anything the composer or lyricist had written before and yet it ran for seven years at the Prince Edward Theatre. It will be fascinating to see what fans of the previous production make of Michael Grandage’s new staging.

On a creative level there should not be too much disappointment. Grandage is true to the spirit of the show and alongside choreographer Rob Ashford and designer Christopher Oram (the same team that brought us Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly), he presents an often compelling, atmospheric production.

Crucial to a successful dramatic flow is Che, now more an omnipresent narrator, observer and critic and less a representation of revolutionary Che Guevara. Hardly off the stage for a minute, Matt Rawle is outstanding, making the role his own. As Peron, Philip Quast too impresses, allowing the audience to see a weakness of character so apparently absent from his ever precious wife.

Buenos Aires-born Roger seems to embrace every moment of the Evita rollercoaster. Oozing stage presence, she appears so focused that the interpretation is occasionally too clinical for my liking. Yet it still remains a performance that surely will be favourably compared with those of the great actresses who have preceded her.

Lorna Want deserves a special mention for her touching rendition of Another Suitcase in Another Hall.

Webber and Rice’s score, perhaps their strongest, stands the test of time and still remains relevant today. Now they will just have to wait and see if a 21st century audience is as enthusiastic as the one three decades ago.

Production Information

Adelphi, London, June 21 onwards

Authors
Lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Director
Michael Grandage
Producer
Andre Ptaszynski for The Really Useful Theatre Company Ltd
Cast includes
Elena Roger, Philip Quast, Matt Rawle, Gary Milner, Lorna Want
Running time
2hrs 20mins

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