Wednesday 17th September I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket to see the newly opened ‘Evita’ at the Dominion Theatre. And when I say ‘newly opened’, I mean that I got to see it the second night it was open, so I was very excited!
I had been eager to see this show as it is only doing a short run of 55 performances, and I didn’t really know ‘Evita’ very well, other than knowing the trademark songs, so I was keen to expand my musical knowledge.
Walking into the Dominion Theatre without Freddie Mercury standing above the entrance was a little bit saddening for me as I am such a big fan of ‘We Will Rock You’, and it seems like they have tried to give the theatre a fresh start as the place still smells of paint. But I guess after 12 years of the same show, it is time for a fresh start and a fresh slick of paint.
And a fresh start is certainly what the theatre has got as ‘Evita’ could not be further worlds apart from ‘We Will Rock You’.
What was interesting to discover about ‘Evita’ is how its protagonist is equally its antagonist, as the character of Evita, played spectacularly by Madalena Alberto, is surprisingly unlikeable.
In a nutshell, the story charts how a 15 year old girl, who dreams of becoming an actress, blackmails a man she is having an affair with to take her to the city, sleeps her way to the top, marries future president Juan Peron after telling him that she would be a useful asset, and then she drapes herself in all the riches that the rest of her country doesn’t have, goes on a tour around Europe where most countries dismiss her, and then returns to Argentina where she eventually dies of cancer. Not exactly a fairytale ending, or a fairytale story.
In spite of the irony of the character and her story, Madalena Alberto dazzled as Eva Peron, successfully portraying the role from young girl to a powerful but frail woman. ‘Buenos Aires’ demonstrated her star quality as she fabulously danced around the stage with energy and charm. This energy is carried all the way through even in her final scenes. Her final performance of ‘You Must Love Me’, as she begins to succumb to her cancer, is passionate and devastating to see a woman still so strong in a body that holds her back. Obviously, her rendition of the show’s signature song, ‘Don’t Cry for me Argentina’, was magnificent too.
The strong ensemble master clashing and intricate harmonies and execute dance moves with precision and flair, and Sarah McNicholas gets her moment as Peron’s Mistress singing a beautiful rendition of ‘Another Suitcase, Another Hall’.
The band is impressive and bash out the rock opera score with pizazz, although at times the band is a bit overpowering and drown out the actors.
If you are an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan then ‘Evita’ is definitely worth a visit, as one of his more sophisticated pieces.
I don’t imagine that ‘Evita’ will ever do a long stint in the West End again as its subject and history isn’t well known enough for the younger audience and tourists to pay it much interest, so be sure to catch it at the Dominion Theatre whilst you can as it may be a long time yet before it does a run in as magnificent a theatre in London.
Thank you to Official Theatre for the ticket! Check out their site for more information on the Dominion Theatre.