25th March 2017
The Playhouse. Alnwick
Type of Production
Author: Kathryn Curry
The show opened with an electrically charged scene with the cast lamenting the announcement of the death of Eva Peron. They were superb in their interpretation of grief at such a national figure dying with everyone engaged and individual performances very convincing.
The arrival of Che (Darren Lewis) set the standard for the whole of the show. He was quite simply superb; in acting, singing and energy (which is second to none) as well as being dynamic in every entrance, leaving the audience enthralled with a performance worthy of any ‘West End’ show. What a talented performer he is and an absolute delight to watch and listen to. As the show progressed we went back in time to 1934 when we met the poor but ambitious 15 year old ‘Eva Peron’ (Juliette Bell) and her first lover Augustin Magaldi (Peter Biggers) a tango singer. Juliette progressively led us through the show portraying the various aspect of her life rising from an impoverished teenager to her dramatic death scene in 1952 when she was a relatively young woman aged 33.
Juliette is a newcomer to this society and in this role excelled and held us spellbound with yet another performance worthy of the ‘West End’ Her acting skills complimented her amazing voice and it was obvious she was living the part, leaving us finally in death with a very emotional ‘Lament’ where you could have heard a pin drop in the audience. Peter Biggers gave us a skilled and humorous performance as her first lover. Peter always delivers in whatever role he takes on and is a wonderful character actor as well as having a first rate voice. This was a role made for him and it was obvious he revelled in it.
The set for this show was fresh and quite simply stunning and a credit to ‘Border Studios’ who supplied it. Cast handled the effective but simple props very efficiently and they enhanced each scene. The changing of scenes was extremely slick and the chorus appeared as if by magic as they performed chorus numbers. Singing and harmonies were a credit to this talented group. Their efforts at the dance routines created by the talented Joanne Burn were thrilling and very effective. Joanne is an imaginative choreographer and assisted by able dance Captains Leonie Dial and Kellie Hughes routines were slick and energetic.
On the journey through the life of Eva Peron we met various characters and each of them was played by stalwarts of this society and gave memorable performances. Peron (Anthony Stoker) was extremely well played. This part was a platform for Anthony to show us what a talented singer he is and I loved every musical interaction he was involved in. He was the perfect match for Eva Peron and played this part to perfection. Peron’s Mistress (Leoni Dial) gave her usual amazing superb performance. Leoni sings with such emotion and her rendition of ‘Another Suitcase in an Another Hall’ had the audience reduced to tears including herself. Just fantastic and so moving Leoni! Mother with baby (Claire Teasdale) sang beautifully ‘Santa Evita’. This is a very talented young lady to watch out for in future shows.
All the various singing ensembles that appeared with the principals were well rehearsed and complemented them. They showed musicality, confidence and their harmonies superb. A lot of hard work to learn these cameo singing renditions was very evident….. So well done to all! The characterisation of roles in this production from principals to chorus members was authentic and totally convincing. Costumes overseen by Ann Davies and Carol Green were lovely and so in period with the time. Well done to you both for taking so much care in getting them just right. Back stage crew led by the experienced stage manager Virginia Mayes-Wright assisted by Mick Grant ensured this production ran without a hitch.
It goes without saying that a production of this magnitude cannot be successful without the expertise, charisma and wonderfully enthusiastic approach of ‘Maestro’ Peter Brown. He is just so encouraging with the cast in his directon and confidence in them. His ensemble of extremely talented musicians enabled performers to give of their very best. Finally I must congratulate ‘Director’ Norman Luke on an inspired production worthy of any ‘West End’ stage because of his commitment, lovely quiet persona, patience and gifted insight in getting the very best out of a very talented cast. A hard act to follow.…..’ HIGH FLYING ADORED’….ASMS we adored your version of ‘EVITA’ and this certainly was ‘A NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS’! ‘Thanks ASMS for another superb evening of the very best of amateur theatre.