Evita (review)

Marti Pellow in Evita. Photo by Keith Pattison
Marti Pellow in Evita. Photo by Keith Pattison

It wasn’t five minutes ago that singer/actor Marti Pellow was appearing as the narrator in Blood Brothers. Now he’s back in pretty much the same role, but one in which he’s much better suited, in the smash hit Evita.

It’s the show that keeps on giving. Audiences just love it as demonstrated by the standing ovations it’s been getting at Milton Keynes Theatre this week. The cast may change but the production remains essentially true to the original that was created by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice.

This time around Pellow takes the role of Che Guevara which, although based on a real person - the face and beret on millions of posters, T shirts and an inspirational icon - he was essentially a plot device by the creators. Che never met the Perons.

But here he’s a symbol of cynicism, pouring scorn on the mythology that was created by the Perons and Eva in particular. She was an ambitious gold-digger (sorry, actress), who worked her way up the food chain until she landed the big fish. Once by the side of Argentina’s most powerful dictator she set about fashioning herself into the saviour of the country. The performance was so good that she believed it herself.

Pellow, who found fame as the front man to Wet Wet Wet, doesn’t have more than a few words of dialogue in this typical Webber-Rice sung production, which is good because that Scots accent keeps popping out, but he’s in fine voice and is naturally comfortable on stage (and so lovely to see him break into a dazzling smile at the curtain call).

But the real star of this version of Evita is the lovely lady playing the lead. She’s called Madalena Alberto and I have to admit that the name meant nothing to me. But she’s done the rounds with Les Mis, Godspell, Fame, Chicago etc She’s a tiny dynamo of a woman with the most sensational voice. Her rendition of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina is breathtaking.

Once again Mark Heenehan is playing the duplicitous Juan Peron and it’s a part that he’s really made his own, growing more statesmanlike as he gets older. The deadly “musical chairs” scene as the colonels of the military junta jostle for power, while singing The Art Of The Possible, is particularly effective at demonstrating how corrupt a regime existed.

Big songs, a big set and a West End class production. We are incredibly lucky to be able to attract this calibre of show to our area.

Evita runs at Milton Keynes Theatre until June 1. For tickets and information contact the box office 0844 871 7652 or go online www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

@LBOanne