Review by Paul Towers, 1/12/23
Evita, lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Directed by Nikolai Foster
Produced by Curve
At Curve til Saturday 13th January 2024
“an astonishing production”
Wow! Wow! Wow!
Do yourself a favour and swap your Christmas shopping from Waitrose to Lidl this year and bag a ticket (or three) for this astonishing production of Evita.
This seminal musical by Lloyd Webber and Rice from 1978 was originally a rock opera concept album in 1976. Such was its success that a full show was fashioned around the music and an iconic production was born and spent 8 years in London’s West End. It opened on Broadway in 1979 and ran til 1983. Since then it has had productions around the world and regularly tours the UK.
So I was excited to hear that our very own Nikolai Foster was staging it in his own inimitable style. And boy, what style. Much like the current London production of Sunset Boulevard, Foster’s Evita has a pared back stage which allows the songs and the singers to, rightly, shine.
Evita follows the rise of Eva Duarte, a social climbing model, radio star and actress (remind you of anyone?) who, having slept her way up the social ladder eventually manoeuvres herself into the sphere of political climber Juan Peron. Peron soon gets elected President of Argentina with her by his side. However, with success comes accountability and suddenly her charitable work is being scrutinised and found to be wanting. As Eva’s health starts to falter she realises that all that glitters is not gold and her aspirations for class and wealth have not brought her happiness. All that she has achieved is her love for and by the people of Argentina.
A huge cast is lead by Martha Kirby as Eva Peron and Gary Milner as Juan Peron. Che, the Narrator, is mischievously played by Tyrone Huntley who pushes the story along while voicing some of the nay sayers of Argentina. A large ensemble is further bolstered with two alternating teams of young local performers. A live orchestra of nine hidden below the front of stage and led by George Strickland and Tom Slade give the production a really full blooded feel. However it is the set (design by Michael Taylor) and lighting (Joshie Harriette) that give this production the wow factor. Choreographer Adam Murray brings an extraordinary energy to the various dance routines. The set of girders and gantries give a very apt industrial feel to everything but for sheer drama the opening scene of Eva’s funeral takes some beating.
This is Curve’s festive offering and runs right through to the middle of January so, do yourself a favour, and get a ticket and lose yourself in this amazing production of one of the first influencers.
Evita is at Curve until Saturday 13th January 2024
Pics: Marc Brenner