I’ll come clean right from the start, when Claire from the Cotswold Bloggers group messaged to say that there was an opportunity to review Evita at the New Theatre in Oxford – I’d replied in about three seconds. Evita (shortly after the King and I) is one of my favourite musicals, but I’ve never seen it on stage.
I’ve lost count the number of times I’d watched Madonna and Antonio Banderas dance-argue through ‘Waltz for Eva and Che’ in the 1996 epic. Bill Kenwright’s production, which has just completed a smash hit run a London’s Dominion Theatre, had a lot to live up to.
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber picked some controversial topics as their musical focus – Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and Evita – the story of Eva Peron, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Peron, who starts from humble beginnings to climb to extraordinary wealth, power and iconic status which ultimately lead her to be heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’ by the Argentine people.
Gian Marco Schiaretti as Che (as in Guevara) acts as narrator, conscience and embodies the voice of the Argentinian people. We loved his portrayal of a slighted, sarcastic and edgy revolutionary. Kevin Stephen-Jones’ Peron was quite different to Jonathon Pryce’s in the film which was quite sympathetic and ‘of the people’, whilst Stephen-Jones’ Peron appeared more demanding, a tad more chauvinistic, more egotistical and probably more akin to real life – I’d imagine.
Emma Hatton took on the role as Evita, having recently played Elphaba in Wicked. My definite highlight of the whole evening was seeing Emma’s Evita belt out ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ from the balcony of the Casa Rosada Emma’s Evita definitely had drive, ambition and a few manipulating tricks up her sleeve.
The team at ATG sent me a handy release before the production with info on the cast (extremely handy!) but I definitely feel they skimped on the background on the rest of the company. Magaldi, Evita’s first ‘love affair’, played by Oscar Balmaseda, was a sleazy singer that you instantly disliked and kept showing up like a bad smell – he was great! And the chorus numbers were executed spotlessly.
To be honest, I don’t think my ‘review’ really does any of them justice, you’ll just have to see it for yourself.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, head to the New Theatre’s website, it has a programme that often hosts tours straight from the West End. You can get tickets from the box office on George Street, by ringing 0844 871 3020 or by visiting the website at www.atgtickets.com/oxford.
Many thanks to ATG group for our organising our trip and for the photography. Bucket list item complete! \