Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Evita Returns to the Hippodrome

The Bill Kenwright tour of “Evita” returns to the Birmingham Hippodrome this week to delight audiences with a sweet production.

Abigail Jaye delights as Evita.

Abigail Jaye gives a stunning and sassy performance in the iconic role of Eva Peron. With vocals that melt your ears she overpowers the orchestra and gives a memorable performance of the show tune anthem “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”. Jaye laps up the audience’s applause and it’s easy to see she’s in her element in the title role. Co-stars Mark Powell and Mark Heenehan (as Che and Peron respectively) support their leading lady well and offer good vocals and steady performances throughout. My highlight performance goes to Sasha Ransley in her role as the Mistress as she melts audience’s hearts with her rendition of “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”. Reuben Kaye as Eva’s lover Magaldi provides a strong character and luscious vocals. The show’s ensemble support the leading players and deliver strong harmonies (and lots of costume changes). The quirky ensemble number “Peron’s Latest Flame” offers a good build up to the act one finale of “A New Argentina”.

The ensemble in the showstopper "Buenos Aires"

Conductor David Steadman has a great Andrew Lloyd Webber score to work with and the musical arrangements are a feast for the ears as audiences are delivered some of their most memorable musical theatre songs ever written. With music ranging from tango to rock, the score helps to develop the story along nicely and allows for some great vocals from the ensemble with haunting harmonies. Matthew Wright’s design stole the show, with a set composing of moving staircases, sliding balconies and shadowing Argentinean pillars, the visual aspect for audiences is delightful.

The production is a nice show, it has all the right elements – good leads, good score, good set but I can’t help but think something is lacking. Maybe it’s the overload of slow ballads, or the lack of “wow factor” effects; I don’t know. Whatever I think, it’s clear to see that audiences love the show from its great success: it’s been playing the UK for a good few years and has even had an international leg on its tour.

Finally a big shout out and round of applause for some of my buddies who are appearing in the show in the Birmingham stop of the tour... I was like a proud father watching you.

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