‘Evita’ is back in London, in the Dominion Theatre for just 55 performances. It’s a production on tour, that’s why the show is just for a few weeks in London. I’m so happy I finally could see the musical. But I must recognise that I was a little bit scared, because the reviews weren’t as good as I expected. I must say that I liked it, I didn’t love it, but I had a good night, that’s the minimum I ask from a musical. I was completely surprised and amazed by Madalena Alberto, who plays Eva Perón, and really disappointed with Marti Pellow, playing Ché.
This musical was written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber and started their performances at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1978. Since then, there have been different productions and many revivals in the UK, Broadway and around the world. The musical is based in Eva Perón’s life, an argentine political leader, wife of President Juan Perón.
Eva had a poor family, but she went to Buenos Aires to work as an actress. She became famous and she met Juan Perón. With him, her political career was focused on the poor people and the women. She created a Foundation to help society with schools, hospitals and all people living in vulnerable conditions. She was a spiritual leader in Argentina, but died in 1952 ill of a cancer.
After long time searching for the DVD of the movie, I found it a few weeks ago. I was so happy, because I wanted to know the story of Eva Perón and see one of the most important British musicals. I must say that I was quite disappointed, because I’m not sure if I like Eva or not. In the movie, Madonna, who is playing the main role, looks so arrogant, as a person who does whatever she can to have power. But in the show, Madalena Alberto performs a completely different Evita. She looks like an innocent girl who fights for poor people by heart. So it’s a character you love and understand. I enjoyed more the play than the movie.
But I don’t know what to think about Eva Perón. Of course it’s because I don’t know much about her, I just discovered her story watching the musical. She visited Spain in 1947 when the fascist dictator Francisco Franco was in the Government. It shocked me a lot, but in the musical is just a part of a song, is not much important. Watching the movie I was so confused, Eva Perón seemed to me as a bitch, so I couldn’t understand why was she so important. Why a musical about her? But in the play she’s different. She looks kind, sometimes innocent and humble. I had the feeling that she really cared about people. Now I understand why Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber wanted to create a show about her. The character of Ché was different as well. In the movie, Antonio Banderas is like an antagonist, against Evita all the time. In the play, Marti Pellow just tells the story, nothing else.
For me, the best of this production is Madalena Alberto. She is absolutely amazing; she has a wonderful voice and range. This Portuguese artist has been in different musicals in the West End before, like ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, ‘Godspell’ or ‘Les Misérables’. I didn’t know her before, and I was completely fascinated. I understood everything, all her feelings, all her actions and emotions. It really moved me, so I can’t complain about her at all. I enjoyed ‘Evita’ because of her.
But Marti Pellow’s performance was really disappointing. By far, is the worst of this production of ‘Evita’. I feel so bad saying that, because he has a very successful career as a singer, but his voice didn’t sound good to me. The song ‘And The Money Kept Rolling In And Out’ sounded strange, it was so weird the way he performed it. Marti Pellow’s performance wasn’t good as well. His physical posture was rigid all the time; he didn’t transmit any feeling to me.
The musical numbers were really good. All the group choreographies were amazing, all the company dancing ‘Buenos Aires’ was amazingly beautiful. I enjoyed the chorus songs and Evita’s solos. Madalena singing ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ is absolutely shocking. Her voice is really powerful, I loved her performance too. But I also enjoyed the Finale and ‘You Must Love Me’. But, one of the best moments for me of the show was ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ performed by Sarah McNicholas. She moved me a lot; I enjoyed the song so much, is one of my favourite songs from musical from now on.
The first act was the best for me. It was pure entertainment, discovering the young Evita, moving to Buenos Aires and meeting Juan Perón for the first time. The second act, all her political career was good, but not as good as the first part. Sometimes it was quite boring. I think I enjoyed more the songs from the first part than the second. Sometimes the show reminded me ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’: the style, the rock, the passion and the way how the songs tell the story.
But we need to talk about the Spanish. I know that most of the actors don’t speak Spanish. It was funny to listen ‘Buenos Airis’ instead of ‘Buenos Aires’. It was so hard for me to understand ‘Santa Santa Evita, madre de todos los niños, de los tiranizados, de los descamisados. De los trabajadores de la Argentina’. I can’t complain about the pronunciation because my English pronunciation is not good as well. And in Spain, you can hear Spanish singers singing in English and you can have a heart attack. But there are some important mistakes in the banners.
In the scene where Juan Perón is jailed, all the people go on a strike asking for his release. In one of the banners you can read ‘Liberan Perón’. That’s not correct, because it means ‘They set free Perón’ and that’s not what happened yet, they are asking to release him. The correct sentence would be ‘Liberen Perón’. Then, when he is finally released (don’t worry, it’s not an important spoiler) there’s an argentine flag where you can read something like ‘Perón es el FUTURA presidente’. I’m not sure that’s the message, because from my seat I couldn’t see it properly. Anyway, if we are talking about Juan Perón, the sentence would be ‘Perón es el FUTURO presidente’ and if we are talking about Eva, the sentence would be ‘Perón es la FUTURA presidenta’. I would like to know what was really written in that flag, is in the balcony at the end of the act 1. I think it’s important to check these small details for a production that is playing in the West End.
I think that ‘Evita’ is a great show. The story is epic and the songs are powerful. I am so happy to have seen finally this musical live, even in a small production on tour. I liked it, I really enjoyed, but I am so disappointed that I didn’t fall in love with the musical. I enjoyed the choreographies, the songs in group as well. The best was to discover Madalena Alberto, an excellent Eva Perón, her wonderful voice made me feel all her passion and love even when her character was about to die. So I truly recommend seeing this production before they finish their performances at the Dominion Theatre.