REVIEW: Evita, Opera House, Blackpool

Evita was written more than 40 years ago but the story it told still echoes much of what we see in modern day society. While Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t necessarily have the glamour of the young Eva Duarte, it’s still hard to deny the obvious parallels in Britain as it is with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita.

The story of Evita is that of Eva Peron, the wife of Juan Peron who was a former dictator in Argentina. The story details her humble beginnings from the time she’s born in a rural village in The Pampas and continues to her rise in power and wealth as the first lady before her health starts to decline ending in her death from cancer at on 33 years of age. However, you may not find yourself sympathising with the titular character throughout the story.

There is a well-known star who will be part of the cast during this tour of the show as Emma Hatton plays the titular figure right from the 15-year-old girl in the village to the lady who steers Colonel Peron to become the president of Argentina. Those who go to see the show will note the vocal similarities between Emma and Elaine Paige, the stage legend who first played Evita in 1978 in London.

Gian Marco Schiaretti plays Che’, the narrator and cynic who counters Eva’s rise to wealth and power. The role of Peron is played by Kevin Stephen-Jones while Oscar Balmaseda plays Magaldi, the hapless singer. Also in support is Sarah O’Connor who takes on the role of Peron’s mistress.

Thanks to the excellent choreography of Bill Deamers, the cast move fluidly from the villagers without a care in the world to the rousing descamisados and to the aristocracy. The company was also assisted by children from Michael Hall Theatre School in Blackpool.

Evita is one of the most successful musicals and has maintained a huge following in the years since it was released. Its production in London’s West End led to it winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical. It was also the first British musical to win a Tony Award after its production on Broadway in 1979. There have been many other productions of the musical throughout the world and it was even made into a movie in 1996. The musical has also been revived in London and Broadway recently.

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