With Marti Pellow starring as the brooding Che, Evita is out on the road on a national tour, and at the heart of the production Madalena Alberto emulates the star quality of the original Eva with ease.
A charismatic actress and an accomplished singer, Alberto has the capacity, like Elena Roger before her, to draw everyone’s attention, and she clearly delights in her prime position in the spotlight. Whether it’s the raucous Buenos Aires of Act I or the emotionally fragile You Must Love Me towards the end of the show, Alberto captures the mood of the moment effortlessly.
Mark Heenehan’s height makes his stately Peron an authoritative presence towering over his diminutive wife. Heenehan’s powerful yet understated performance is perfectly pitched and contrasts nicely with Pellow’s masculine, confrontational Che. The sexual tension between Che and Eva is excitingly portrayed, almost reaching boiling point during the Waltz for Eva and Che.
The way Eva ages more than 15 years in two hours is very impressively achieved, both by Alberto’s talent for transformation and the subtle work of the wardrobe department. She is girlish and effervescent when first arriving in Buenos Aires, a characteristic enhanced by her loose brown hair and cute tea dress, but once she enters politics she transforms into a power dressing, platinum blonde, a champion of ‘the people’.
The chorus members are given plenty of opportunities to display their diversity in a cascading stream of roles – playing the downtrodden ‘descamisados’ one minute and the snooty elite the next. And when Sarah McNicholas steps up for the mistress’ solo, Another Suitcase in Another Hall, her interpretation is sublime.
It’s not often that a London audience springs to its feet in unison, but the prolonged standing ovation was thoroughly deserved and indicative of what a hit this breathtaking touring production is likely to be.