Review: Evita, Birmingham Hippodrome

Don't cry for me Argentina, the truth is I never left you.

Review: Evita, Birmingham Hippodrome

Words synonymous with pictures of drugs cheat Diego Maradona breaking down on being found out during the football World Cup in 1994.

Two decades on and I have finally been educated with the real story of Argentinian First Lady Eva Peron, whose rapid rise through her country's ranks to leadership and then tragedy, have laid the foundation for hit musical Evita by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Throw in the starring roles of her husband and president Juan Peron and Cuban leader Che Guevara, this production, although 36 years in age, showed no signs of getting old as its latest tour landed at Birmingham Hippodrome this week.

It seemed apt that it was in the same week of the one year anniversary of the death of Margaret Thatcher that I saw the show, such were the parallels between the former British Prime Minister and Eva.

From their passionate self-belief in what they were doing was right, to their awareness of self-image, with both even changing hair styles to win their leadership roles.

As the excellent production taught, Eva believed her own hype and despite her ruthless husband and controversial charitable work - as highlighted in the show during the song And the Money Kept Rolling In (And Out) - she put everything into her work until her death from cancer, aged just 33.

But what of the show and singer and actress Madalena Alberto, who plays Eva? Brilliant. You could hear a pin drop in the Hippodrome as she exquisitely softly sang the show-stopper Don't Cry For Me Argentina.

As she cried out the words, singing at the height of Eva's power, there was a feeling the audience was being seduced, just as the Argentinian public had been all those years ago.

It wasn't just 'that' song, however. Buenos Aires was fun and lively as it depicted a young Eva leaving her home for fortune and fame, then there was Goodnight And Thank You, a playful song in which Eva waved off her many lovers before meeting Peron.

For all the fun and excitement, there was then Eva's Final Broadcast which was touching and sad, showing her short-life coming to an abrupt end.

Supporting stars - former Wet Wet Wet star Marti Pellow, as Che, and American Mark Heenehan, as Peron - also helped make the show a success. Pellow obviously still has the charm and voice as he narrated the story of Eva, while dodging round the cast on stage.

Combined with the excellent backing cast, lighting and choreography, this show offers a real musical history tale. Forget Maradona, go see Evita.

By Alex Ross

  • Evita is at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday April 19.
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