Evita – Review – Bradford Alhambra Theatre
By @Steve Crabtree, April 2018
Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s and Tim Rice’s Evita arrived at the Alhambra Theatre this week, and lovers of the 40-year-old musical will be more than pleased with this Bill Kenwright production.
Evita is set in Argentina, and tells the story of Eva Perón, the wife of the country’s former dictator, Juan Perón. It details her rise to power, and her sad demise. And in an unsurprisingly full theatre, the opening night sees the Bradford audience treated to a powerful opener, that nicely sets the tone for the next two and a half hours.
“An incredible voice”
Leading the line is Madalena Alberto, an Evita favourite who makes a stunning return to the role of Eva after portraying her in the West End in 2014. Alongside her is Jeremy Secomb, who’s strong representation of President Perón is only made stronger by his incredible voice.
A fabulous cast surrounds the leading pair; as does a stage that’s adorned with spectacular scenery. Stone columns, bedroom balconies and the town square setting are as highly detailed as the costumes. The quality and detail is a sure and constant thing throughout the show; but then again what else would you expect from a show like Evita?
As song takes us through the story, Alberto balances the good and the wholesome side of Eva alongside her often-questionable life choices so well. She takes a woman born into humble beginnings to becoming the most powerful woman in Argentina with style and aplomb. But it’s when Eva is at her most fragile that Ms. Alberto comes in to her own.
Not being an Evita devotee (like much of the crowd) I find from time to time I struggle to hear some of the vocals. When a group are singing in unison, and in a show where the story is told through some very famous numbers, the clarity was lacking at times. And I think that for anyone like me, who’s seeing Evita for the first time, this could easily make them lose track of the story.
But one character who isn’t lacking in clarity is Che, played by Gian Marco Schiaretti. The narrator-come-story-teller certainly brings an imposing presence, and delivers each vocal exquisitely. For me, he just edges out Secomb and Alberto as the star of the show. The ladies to my left agree.
And how could the highlight of the night not be the reprise of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ by Alberto? I found this an absolutely breath-taking part of the second half of the show. It’s the vocal performance of the night, and the audience are completely captivated by the emotion and passion throughout it. It’s certainly a memorable and enjoyable moment of what’s been a very good start to the week.
As the final curtain falls, many of the Alhambra audience are on their feet applauding. Evita has lived up to people’s expectations, and appreciation of the entire production hasn’t gone unnoticed.