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Evita (Susan Elkin reviews)

Evita
Lyrics by Tim Rice. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
society/company: Festival Players
performance date: 31 May 2019
venue: ADC Theatre, Cambridge

Photo: Tim Winn

This sparkling production of a vintage, evergreen Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber piece brings us some of the finest choral singing I have ever heard in a community show; beautifully pointed, architectural choreography (David Mallabone) and splendid playing from Paul Garner’s over stage band especially from Roger Chinery/Fallon Howe on trumpet and flugel.

Then of course there are some impressively strong principals including Emily Pratt who plays Eva with magnificent passion and terrific musical control: top notes and a full belt to die for. It’s a bravura performance by any standard. I also admired the insouciance and deceptively casual musicality of Jonathan Padley as Che, the quasi narrator who comments on the story, interrogates the characters and their decisions, drives the action forward and occasionally drops into minor roles. The cast, moreover, includes four children who sing short solos followed by a very attractive quartet all delivered with panache and fine intonation. One way and another this production coheres nicely, sends you home with melodies in your head and plenty of political issues to reflect on.

The show works – and always did right back to the original 1979 Harold Prince production – because the rags to riches story packs such a powerful, warm hearted punch. Charismatic Eva Peron, whose humble origins were in inverse proportion to her ambition, famously rose to be the wife of Argentine President Juan Peron in 1945. Commendable good works were arguably offset by her excesses but she had became a saint-like figure before her early death at age 33. Seeing Evita today, 40 years after its debut and 22 years after her death I’m forcibly struck by some of the parallels with Diana, Prince of Wales which may be another reason why the piece stands the test of time so brightly.

Photo: Tim Winn

First published by Sardines: http://www.sardinesmagazine.co.uk/reviews/review.php?REVIEW-Festival%20Players-Evita&reviewsID=3596
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Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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