Evita is a musical by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber which popularised the previously little known story of Eva Duarte de Perón, wife of Argentinian president Juan Perón. The musical began its life as a rock opera concept album in 1976 before debuting on the West End two years later.
Eva Perón began her life as a poor aspiring actress in Buenos Aires and, following career success, broadened her ambitions to politics. After meeting Colonel Juan Perón and identifying him as a potentially very powerful man, the two formed an alliance and she drove him to election as president, rallying support of the common people and promising he will be a faithful advocate of their interests.
With Argentina being a prosperous country at the time, exporting to European countries that had been depleted by World War II and with several countries owing them vast sums, the economy boomed and the Perón regime was glowingly hailed by the masses.
Eva Perón herself did much humanitarian work, aiding the poor, setting up a generous charitable organisation; and being a feminist, she encouraged women to campaign for the right to vote (granted in September 1947) and created the Perónist Women’s Party. However, despite the style, grace and empathy of the Peróns, they went to great lengths to maintain superiority and compliance, quashing opposition by closing newspapers and imprisoning critics.
The musical begins with the epilogue, showing the devastating scene of Eva Perón’s coffin and the people kneeling and crying for the loss of their much-loved First Lady. The story then flips back 15 years to Eva’s rise as an actress, cleverly casting a shadow over the story.
Eva Perón was played by Emma Hatton (Wicked, We Will Rock You, Dreamboats and Petticoats), who was excellent in the role, portraying the youthful, innocent side of Eva yet maintaining the strong, determined and manipulative front. Hatton’s performance of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ was breathtaking and tender.
Che was played by Gian Marco Schiaretti (Tarzan, Romeo and Juliet) who was outstanding in the role, particularly excelling with ‘And The Money Keeps Rolling In’, and broodingly stalking around the stage with great magnetism. Che is the show’s narrator and is able to look upon the Peróns’ circus with an ice cold eye. The character is thought to be based on real-life Argentine-Cuban political extremist, Che Guevara.
Overall, Evita is a heartbreaking, tragic story, powerfully brought to life by an outstanding score and cast.
Evita is currently on a national tour of the UK (for more information on tickets and dates, click here).