REVIEW: Evita at Bristol Hippodrome
By Carol_Deacon | Wednesday, October 09, 2013, 12:29
In the very opening minutes of Evita all is seemingly given away when the audience hears an announcement in Spanish of the death of the heroine.
Evita plays Bristol Hippodrome
But this isn't a spoiler alert as the rags to riches story of a poor South American girl unfolds in music and movement beautifully against a backdrop of revolutionary politics.
The rise and fall of Evita Peron is told with little (or no) dialogue as the plot revolves around the hit song Don't Cry For Me Argentina and is played out on stage with pathos and patriotism.
The first night at the Bristol Hippodrome on Monday starred understudies Hannah Grover as Eva and Joe Maxwell as her husband Juan Perón with pop singer Marti Pellow as the narrator and political commentator Che Guevara.
Mr Pellow is great as the unsentimental and sometimes crass observer of a political power game who guides the audience in song through the more vulnerable moments of Eva's demise.
His solo at the beginning of the second half being reminiscent of his Wet, Wet, Wet hits.
Hannah and Joe stepped up from the ensemble for the night as the main characters are programmed to be played by seasoned performers Madalena Alberto and Mark Heenehan.
Hannah portrayal of a pushy teenager to a disease-wracked first lady is brilliant although she did have to sing heartily in the hospital scene and Joe plays a military man with presidential aspirations driven by his ambitious wife with aplomb.
With the sounds of rock, pop, classic and choral music and simple country folk and soldiers as bit players this is great theatre from the masters – Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
It follows Eva's journey from humble beginnings through to extraordinary wealth, power and iconic status which ultimately lead her to be heralded as the 'spiritual leader of the nation' by the Argentine people.
From the balustrades and flags to the foot-tapping tango dancing and designer finery draped in fur this is dramatic theatre at its best and received a well-deserved standing ovation from enthusiastic theatre-goers.
History hasn't quite made up its mind whether to record Eva and Juan Perón as good or bad rulers but this musical gives some insight into where ambition can get you.
For one talented little girl from the Bristol School of Performing Arts the show gave the opportunity to stand centre stage for a wonderful rendition of Santa Evita.
Nailsea Town Council chairman Clare Hunt was among the first night audience.
She said: "This show is well-worth seeing.
"It is strange that knowing all the songs so well I have never seen it before.
"The music was very cleverly done and accompanied the vocals perfectly."
Evita has more than 20 major awards to its credit including the Oscar winning film version starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas.
Its iconic songs also include On This Night Of A Thousand Stars, You Must Love Me, and Another Suitcase In Another Hall.
Evita plays until Saturday, October 12 go to www.atgtickets.com/bristol for tickets.
The Bristol Hippodrome has a full line-up of fantastic shows including opera, pop, ballet and one-off star performances.
Here is a selection of its future programme until the end of this year:
Based on TS Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber's record- breaking adaptation is on a UK tour. Directed by Trevor Nunn, with choreography by Gillian Lynne and set and costume design by John Napier it runs from Tuesday to Saturday, October 15-26. Tickets £15-£45 with concessions available at certain performances. For more information go to www.catsthemusical.com.
Tickets for the annual pantomime starring naughty but nice dancer and Big Brother celebrity Louie Spence, West Country comedian Andy Ford and former singer with pop group Hear'say, Suzanne Shaw, in the title role are selling fast. The show runs from Friday to Sunday, December 6-January 5, 2014 and promises to be the perfect festive treat. Go to www.atgtickets.com/bristol. Tickets £11.90-£37.90 with online booking fee.
And it gets even better for 2014 with Dirty Dancing, West Side Story, Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Mousetrap, Shek the Musical and the fabulous Barry Humphries - The Eat, Pray and Laugh Tour in February.