The Musical Approach To Dictatorship!

Evita

Theatre Severn

3rd-7th April (Incl. Matinees)

Throughout common parlance we like to use well known couplings to make our point for example, one could cite Fish and Chips or Laurel and Hardy etc. When it comes to musical theatre after Gilbert and Sullivan we British were struggling for a couple to believe in, until in the 1970’s it happened; the coupling of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Together they created musicals that would not only stand the test of time but would stand up to the critics and the great British public. Evita is one such musical.

Tracing the career of Eva Peron, the Argentinian social climber who when married to the president, won the hearts of the people. Not satisfied there she introduced the concept of nepotism to the Junta and almost destroyed the party in doing so. Mysteriously vanishing one’s opponents is one way of achieving mortality the other way is to get Rice and Lloyd Webber to write a musical about you. Evita did both.

Being one of their more sombre musicals Evita tells a tale that due to all the turmoil in the world at that time, might have otherwise gone unnoticed or at least forgotten. Chances are a full audience of English theatre goers might not ever have heard any of the story that unfolded in Argentina just after the war, had it not been for this show. It’s not the greatest way to learn history so a bit of former prepping is advised to get the best of what this show has to offer. But it does tell a good tale.

Eva Peron (also known as Evita) was played by Madelena Alberto and she was a star in every sense of the word. Just like Evita herself this incredibly gifted lady won the hearts of the audience almost immediately and when it comes to the big songs she is on the money. So sensitive in her enunciation she found beauty in the words and music that only a really special singer can do. Ms.  Alberto is one such singer. Her Evita is beautiful, sensitive, breath-taking and powerful. She sang with such conviction and such emotion. You always know you’re watching the best when they can cry and run their mascara to command. An intensively spectacular performance.

The cynical and judgemental revolutionary Che, played by Gian Marco Schiaretti, was on the nail too. He has a massive responsibility in this show, being the only one who maintains almost a complete show-long stage presence. So not only was he to learn every word in the score his movements were crucial and with an already full to do list he had to take that on board too. Having identified the areas where he may have slipped up it is fair to say that he handled it all with a professionality and purpose that make it an honour to watch him work.

Same goes to Jeremy Secombe who played a thoroughly convincing Juan Peron. Finding both Peron’s strengths and weaknesses so understatedly he made it look easy. In this narrative it would appear that Evita wore the trousers and like so many men before him Peron believed he was running the country. Ha such a foolish notion! Eva might have worn the trousers but she did it in beautiful dresses. She really did look a million dollars and as she sang the biggest song of all her dress sparkled like it was singing along with her. A wonderful theatrical moment.

However back to the poor old President: One is aware that he had secret police, he was totalitarian in his approach and courted the support of all the baddies. One is never sure if he met Hitler but interestingly enough he made no impression on Italy’s fascist dictator Mussolini, neither did he in England. In fact we Brits refused to invite Eva when she went on a whistle-stop tour of war ravaged Europe looking for support. But for all Peron’s predilection for power, he also seems a very junior player in Evita’s power machine. Mr. Secomb found that balance and introduced a really three dimensional character. They all do that and one believes that the pen of Tim Rice could make and break heroes and villains all day long, shame its theatre and not World Politics!

The set is deceptively easy and the stage importantly remained uncluttered, using the device of characters carrying on what they needed did away with awkward scene changes. But for its simplicity it was effective and so much more happened technically on the stage than people could ever dream of. In this kind of show scenery and props should just happen without anyone actually noticing there has to be a synergy between Technicians, Stage Hands and Players and together they work to make this show happen. With a cast of 49 people things have to be tight and pleasingly tight they were. That’s 49 without counting the live orchestra of 9 that provide the sound that carries this musical along. The music like the singing was utterly faultless.

Musically this is a masterpiece. Lloyd Webber has been a household name for decades and hearing this score will firmly cement the fact within you that it is a much deserved name. Will the show stand forever? Why not! Its nigh on 40 years old already and is still as fresh as the day it was written.

Costume, sound, lighting these are the things that make a show after all if the cast was in the dark singing against the Orchestra unamplified one would say it wasn’t much of a show. One can never stress enough the importance of every single person involved in a spectacle like this one. Everyone has a part to play and everyone played their bit brilliantly.

This is a great event, this is what Theatre Severn is built for. A show that tests a theatre to the max is invariably a good show. This show pulls out all the stops to bring to you a little bit of Argentinian history. For the older footy fans amongst you, I am pleased to report there wasn’t one hand of God this was all the work of some very clever theatre folk. And great work it was too.

This is a Five Star Review

Owen J.Lewis

 

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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