Evita

"OH, WHAT A SHOW!  Another smash-hit for the Curve Leicester"

"Evita: The Musical" is a theatrical masterpiece that brings to life the dramatic and captivating story of María Eva Duarte de Perón, affectionately known as Evita. With lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, this iconic musical first graced the stage in 1976, taking audiences on an exhilarating journey through the tumultuous life of Argentina's former First Lady. The musical unfolds against a backdrop of political intrigue, social upheaval, and the intoxicating allure of Eva Perón's meteoric rise to power. From the enchanting streets of Buenos Aires to the grandeur of the Casa Rosada, the show weaves a spellbinding narrative through its powerful songs and evocative choreography, capturing the essence of Evita's complex legacy. 

This new, reimagined version of Evita directed by theatrical visionary Nikolai Foster for the Curve Leicester is a bold and brave take on a classic.  There is so much to talk about with this production, so strap yourself in, as it was quite the ride!

Firstly, the casting throughout this production is first class.  Leading lady Martha Kirby was every inch the superstar, with a voice that I could listen to on repeat.  Kirby’s stage presence charting the rise and fall of Eva Perón was exemplary and with many stand out moments, she is a force to be reckoned with. Her rendition of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’, as she stood aloft a metal staircase, was truly a goosebump moment, ably assisted by the incredible sound of the orchestra under Musical Director Ben van Tienen.  Gary Milner as Perón played the commanding political role with flair and showed true emotion during the demise of his beloved wife.  There was a sense of real affection between the couple which radiated off the stage.

Dan Partridge as Magaldi was simply magnificent.  With an air of the King of Rock n’ Roll, Partridge ruled the stage with his gyrating hips and stand out vocals during ‘On This Night of a Thousand Stars’.  I must also give a shout out to Chumisa Dornford-May who played the Mistress of Perón and who delivered a simply stunning rendition of ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’. The quality of vocal and emotion shown by Dornford-May during this song was a complete masterclass in performance. 

The star of the show for me though is Tyrone Huntley who takes on the role of Che (Narrator) and who is present throughout the whole show, whether that be stood at the side of the stage, or directly in the middle of the action.  From the start, Huntley is completely mesmerising, and I literally could not take my eyes off him.  His diction is as clear as a crystal blue sea, his acting ability is first class and vocally he shone off the stage.  We immediately need a recording of ‘High Flying, Adored’ as quite frankly I adored it!  Such an accomplished performer who deserves every plaudit cast upon him as one of the best musical theatre performers in the country!

Let’s move onto the staging, or lack of it.  Now, this is not a bad thing and I’m seeing it more and more.  I have to draw similarities to the staging and look of the current West End production of Sunset Boulevard which uses no scenery or backdrops and all we see is a blank stage, where the lighting becomes the star.  The overall look of the vast stage at the Curve is quite industrial with the rigging completely visible throughout.  There was also the inclusion of hand-held cameras, again very similar to what we have seen at the Savoy Theatre, where the actors are filmed in close up and projected onto a large LED screen at the back of the stage.  This encapsulates the drama and completely draws you into what is happening.  The lack of staging removes the opportunity for your eyes to wander away from the action and in my opinion completely enhances the overall experience for the better.

Similarly, the costuming by Edd Lindley for the incredible ensemble cast remained monochrome for the majority of the show and added to the overall dramatic feel of the show.  The choreography by Adam Murray was slick, inventive and complemented the storytelling so well.

The lighting, designed spectacularly by Joshie Harriette deserves its very own paragraph here!  I’m always in awe at the way lighting can change a mood or elevate an experience. The amount of lighting on display was mind-blowing.  It really is a star amongst an already packed sky full of wonder.  The way the spotlights moved, the way the colouring was used to convey a mood and the vast array of movement achieved deserves all the awards. Bravo to all involved in this mammoth task, that really does pay off.

I could actually go on for pages and pages about this production, but the biggest praise I can bestow upon it would be to say I would have gone straight back in to watch it all over again.  The Curve Leicester is quickly becoming the go to place for world beating theatre.  Having been blown away by their recent production of Billy Elliott, I think it’s safe to say that they have done it again, broken the mould with how theatre should be in this ever-evolving world and delivering a sensational night out.

OH, WHAT A SHOW!!

This show was reviewed on the 1st December 2023.  Evita runs at the Curve Leicester until the 13th January 2024.  Tickets available here: Evita - Curve Theatre, Leicester (curveonline.co.uk)

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Photo credit: Marc Brenner

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