Tim Rice gives Evita production at the HfC his seal of approval
Evita Hall for Cornwall, until Saturday
Review by Peter Harlow
A NIGHT out in London to see a show always takes some beating as an evening's entertainment. But the capital is a long way from poor old Cornwall.
Now, however, you can forget the petrol-guzzling drive or the long, long train journey and enjoy the West End coming to you with this touring version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic musical.
With former Wet Wet Wet frontman Marti Pellow in excellent form as Che, and Madalena Alberto dazzling as Evita, this is a top-quality production that leaves you feeling slightly bemused when you leave the theatre as you expect to come out on to Shaftesbury Avenue rather than Lemon Quay.
Evita tells the story of Eva Peron's rise from humble beginnings to fabulous wealth and power as the spiritual leader of the Argentine people. But you already know that as the show, and its iconic songs such as Oh What A Circus, Rainbow High and Another Suitcase In Another Hall, have been around for 35 years now.
But its enduring appeal shows no sign of waning, and if productions of this quality continue to be staged, there is no reason to expect that it will for some time yet.
Every member of the ensemble cast is faultless, including the children from Stagecoach Truro and Penzance.
The precision and appearance of the intricate and ever-changing set fascinates throughout, while the costumes – and the huge number of impeccably performed costume changes – are immaculate. Nobody has ever worn a more sparkly necklace than Madalena's Eva Peron donned for her biggest and most famous number, Don't Cry For Me Argentina. It did truly dazzle.
The sound balance on this opening night in Truro was not always perfect, with the lyrics often being lost beneath the volume of the orchestra, but hopefully that will improve as the run goes on.
Madalena Alberto's acting performance had the packed audience enthralled but it was Marti Pellow who really stole the show, his star quality shining through on a night of genuinely high quality across the board.
So how good was it? Well, lyricist Tim Rice was watching next to us in the stalls and he happily joined in with the standing ovation at the end. You can't get much higher praise than that.