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Evita

Date

4th April 2019

Society

Durham Musical Theatre Company

Venue

Gala Theatre Durham

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Fred Wharton

Musical Director

Malcolm Moffat and Martin Dack

Choreographer

Kathleen Knox

Report

Author: Michelle Coulson

Evita was the first show I ever saw in the West End and it has remained my personal favourite so I was excited to see DMTC’s interpretation. Based on the events surrounding the rise to power of Eva Duarte de Peron, Evita is a sung through musical documenting the rise to the presidency of Argentina of Juan Peron and Eva’s rise to sainthood and the adoration of a nation.

The set from Scenic worked well to provide the appropriate backdrop and interpretation space for the many scenes. The production was also complemented by the lighting plot, projections, many props, excellent authentic looking costumes and wigs all used to good effect to help the performers interpret this story.

In this musical there is no rest for the orchestra and the 18 musicians supporting this production played the score to perfection, the percussion in particular playing a big part in this score and sounded excellent.

The large cast produced some of the finest ensemble singing I have heard, the dance routines were slick , super choreography as always from Kathleen and the supporting cameo roles were all played to perfection. Holly Duke, the child soloist at the performance I attended, sang beautifully and the other children sang well and provided good support in their scenes.

Steven Berry as Agustin Magaldi gave a perfect vocal performance and his character provided some light hearted relief in a very intense story.  Katy Walton as the young mistress who is unceremoniously ousted by Eva gave an excellent rendition of “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” full of expression and emotion.The character of “Che” portrayed by Graeme Walton acted as narrator to the story making cynical interjections, some serious, some comic to help to convey the wider context of the political and cultural changes in Argentina at that time, Graeme’s crystal clear diction ensured that every word was heard. As Juan Peron, Anthony Smith was able to portray the hard hearted dictator as well as the man who grew to love Eva, he was able to command the stage as the leader of the country and also show vulnerability and compassion. In the challenging role of Eva Peron Shireen Gale gave a superb portrayal growing from the young ambitious girl to a woman who would win the hearts of a country. The role is vocally demanding and the stamina alone needed to hold the show together rarely leaving the stage and with multiple costume changes is to be commended. Her many iconic songs were well performed but for me it was her performance of “You Must Love Me” which I found particularly powerful and moving. The final scenes of the show were heart-breaking, the two powerful commanding leaders finally giving up was amongst some of the finest acting I have seen.

Evita is a complex piece of theatre and it was obvious that a huge amount of work had gone into getting this production to the stage so it was good to hear that the company were rewarded with full houses for the entire run.

Congratulations to the production team and all involved.