Where: Opera House, Quay Street, Manchester
When: Mon 23rd May to Sat 28th May 2011
What: A Webber & Rice musical mixed with plenty of Argentinian charm!
The Andrew Lloyd Webber classic EVITA has landed in Manchester for a week’s stint at the Opera House. One of his earlier musical productions, the story follows the extraordinary life of Eva Peron, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Peron, who, from young and poor beginnings, gained enormous wealth and power during her ultimate rise to popular sainthood.
Now I’ve seen EVITA numerous times, onstage in professional and amateur productions and of course onscreen in the Oscar-winning movie version starring Madonna back in 1996, so I was eager to see how the tour fared in comparison.
It did not disappoint. A stunning performance was given by Abigail Jayne in the lead role of the ambitious Eva Peron. Her vocal range was magnificent and she sparkled throughout oozing with energy and displaying an infectious warmth which made you love her even when Eva becomes self absorbed.
Peron was played strongly by Earl Carpenter and a nod must be given to the Ensemble cast who worked so hard throughout, playing numerous small roles and giving some great dance sequences-perfectly styled and in character.
The staging for this production was minimal but effective with a great use of lighting, by Mark Howett, to evoke changes of mood and create the ‘party’ atmosphere of Buenos Aires.
For me, there was just one sticking plaster, and that was Mark Powell, who played Che. I could not help but compare him to those who have played the role in the past such as Antonio Banderas and David Essex. Che needs to be played with a passion, sarcasm and above all a drive, Powell showed none of this and came across weak from the start in his stance and soft singing. In his defence I have to say he improved as the show progressed, even receiving a rapturous applause from the audience at curtain call.
Show highlights included a cheeky and flirtatious rendition of ‘Goodnight and Thank You’ along with a cuter than cute performance of ‘Santa Evita’ by a young girl in the Second Act which manages to melt even the hardest of hearts.
Visit www.palaceandoperahouse.org for more info.