Anna Merabishvili reviews the classic musical at The Palace
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical has come to Manchester, bringing to the stage the story of the rise and fall of Argentinian first lady Eva Peron.
As someone who has never seen or come across this musical before, I was impressed and fascinated to learn the story of Evita, played by the incredibly talented Madalena Alberto. The first time she appears on stage, she is unremarkable, wearing a simple dress, while begging Magaldi to take her to Buenos Aires. She succeeds, and from then on we see a woman successful in getting what she wants; she meets Juan Peron, and immediately wins him over, during a beautiful duet of ‘I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You’.
When the musical first opens, with the news of Evita’s death striking the Argentinians, the scale of their disappointment is immediately visible through the grand funeral and the mourning people.
Then, as second act opens, we see her as the figure who was mourned by the people in the very beginning — she wears a stunning white sparkling dress, her now blond hair slicked back into a bun, as she speaks to the people and is greeted by much cheer and applause (including that of the audience).
It is not just her rise, but also her fall that is depicted in a moving way by Magaldi. When her body gives up, succumbing to cancer, and the final speech she has to deliver — Magaldi conveys the emotion through her incredible vocal range, breaking our hearts. Gian Marco Schiaretti also delivers a powerful performance as the constantly lurking Che, framing the narrative and delivering criticisms and commentary on parts of the narrative.
Handsome and with a strong stage presence, he questions where the audience’s sympathies lie by introducing the notion that the people did not quite know everything about Evita. He manages to hold the show together as he leads the audience from one scene of Evita’s life to another.
The set is also helps this production reach out to its audience. From Evita’s funeral to bars and bedrooms, it transforms the stage from one place to the next and takes the audience on a journey in a slick and well rehearsed way.
I greatly enjoyed this staging of Evita. It was interesting to see an old classic musical revived, with a strong cast and stellar performances.