Evita - Original West End Production 1978 to 1986 - 2,913 performances
Previewed 12 June 1978, Opened 21 June 1978, Closed 8 February 1986 at the Prince Edward Theatre
The dramatic story of Eva Peron, the second and most famous wife of the Argentine dictator Juan Peron. She was born Maria Eva Duarte on 17 May 1919 in Los Toldos, a village 150 miles west of Buenos Aires. She was youngest of five illegitimate children. Her childhood was unremarkable, her family ordinary. She died Eva Maria Duarte de Peron, the First Lady of Argentina, on 26 July 1952. She had become the most powerful and famous woman Latin America had ever seen and she was mourned by millions - she won international acclaim and adoration from her own people as a champion of the poor, whilst glamour, power and greed made her the world's first major political celebrity.
The original cast featured Elaine Paige as 'Eva' with David Essex as 'Che' and Joss Ackland as 'Perón'. Directed by Harold Prince with choreography by Larry Fuller, designs by Timothy O'Brien and Tazeena Firth and lighting by David Hersey. Harold Prince made his West End musical stage directing debut with this production. This original production of Evita in London played for 2,913 performances.
Although the concept album of the show, with Julie Covington singing the role of 'Eva', was released in 1976, the stage production was not mounted until some two years later due to the lack of avialability of the Hal Prince who both Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice had wanted to direct the show on stage. The delay though did enable a number of changes to be made: "That record has become the working tape for revisions," explained Webber prior to the show's opening in 1978. "We've axed one major number, 'The Lady's Got Potential'. We've altered the character of Che considerably. He began by being aggressive, but he is now played in a much more beguiling way with more and more charm added to the personality by Hal. He is the man with the information, who reminds the audience that Argentina was very British at the time of Evita - nannies and old Harrovians — and he has the words which close the show. A composer must have time to rethink his own work. I've rewritten all the dance music and I think there is a great improvement. I've learned not to rush things straight onto the stage: that was the trouble with Jeeves. I never knew whether scenes were going to work or not." Webber added that "with Evita I wanted to set a big aria which is melodic and diatonic in the middle of the work. My solution is to make Evita herself a singer, a kind of Tosca figure, so that 'Don't Cry For Me, Argentina' is allowed to be a full-blooded song, a performance in itself. The more I work in the musical theatre the more I realize that structure is everything. Hal appreciates that more than any director I know. When I was a kid I was given the scores of several musicals and used to play Oklahoma when I should have been practicing Chopin; all the stage directions were included and they were a vital part of my education. This is where the Americans excel and it is why before long I shall have to go and work on Broadway for a spell. The great American musicals - Cabaret, West Side Story which perhaps has influenced the dance music in Evita and Gypsy - all have the most careful architecture. It was lack of structure which killed Jeeves. We're not very good at it here: probably the last great piece of music theatre to be composed in Britain was Peter Grimes."
Evita the Musical in London at the Prince Edward Theatre previewed from 12 June 1978, opened on 21 June 1978 and closed on 8 February 1986 after 2,913 performances
Evita - 1st West End Revival 2006 to 2007
Previewed 2 June 2006, Opened 21 June 2006, Closed 26 May 2007 at the Adelphi Theatre
Elena Roger plays the role of 'Eva Peron', Philip Quast plays 'Juan Peron' and Matt Rawle plays 'Che' with Abbie Osmon as the Alternate 'Eva Peron'. Abbie Osmon is expected to play 'Eva' on Monday evenings and Thursday matinees.
When this production opened the London Evening Standard wrote that "I have fallen head over heels for Evita again," in "Michael Grandage's dynamic production" and the Daily Mail hailed it as "a first rate" production while the Daily Express said that it was "a brilliant rediscovery of a show." The Daily Telegraph praised the "socking great star performance from Elena Roger" and the Independent agreed, writing that "Elena Roger is simply sensational."
Elena Roger was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1974 and grew up in the Baracas district. She is a popular musical theatre actress in Argentina, having played roles in Les Miserables and Saturday Night Fever. Regarding playing the role Eva Peron in this first major London revival of Evita the Musical, she says that: "For my grandfather's family, living in the south, Peron did a lot: they were able to buy their house with a government loan and to buy toys at Christmas. For my mother's family, socialists living in the city, I am not sure about what they thought of him. Nothing is black and white, there are always two opinions and we talk about both at home: the same with Eva, wonderful in some ways, not so good in others. I want to express that complexity when I play this role."
"Michael Grandage's terrific, atmospheric production of Evita is superbly staged on Christopher Oram's stuccoed palazzos and wrought-iron balconies of Buenos Aires in the 1950s... Don't Cry For Me Argentina, in which Eva bids farewell to her people, is as potent as ever. Evita's triumph is that you believe she loved the people as ferociously as they worshipped her. A sensational hit, all over again." The Mail on Sunday
"There is something strangely tentative about Michael Grandage's fitfully brilliant revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1978 collaborative swan song... Only Paule Constable's superb lighting and Rob Ashford's electrifying choreography hit the spot... The evening belongs to the tiny but big-lunged Argentinean Elena Roger, who zooms through with more than 'just a little touch of star quality'. Misgivings about the production, then, but the work itself must surely now be regarded as a masterpiece of British 20th-century musical theatre." The Sunday Times
Evita in London previewed from 2 June 2006, opened on 21 June 2006 and closed on 26 May 2007
Evita - 2nd West End Revival 2014
Previewed 16 September 2014, Opened 22 September 2014, Closed 1 November 2014 at the Dominion Theatre
A major revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's legendary musical Evita in London starring Marti Pellow for a strictly limited season of just 55 performances.
The cast features Marti Pellow as 'Che' and Madalena Alberto as 'Eva Peron' with Ben Forster as 'Agustin Magaldi', Matthew Cammelle as 'Juan Perón' and Sarah McNicholas as Perón's mistress. This production, which comes into London's West End following a successful regional tour, is directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright with choreography by Bill Deamer, designs by Matthew Wright, lighting by Mark Howett and sound by Dan Samson. Ben Forster's West End credits include La Cava at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 2000.
When this production opened at London's Dominion Theatre in September 2014 Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph described how the "radiant Portuguese star-in-the-making... Madalena Alberto's affecting performance had me on the brink of tears at the spectacle of premature death yearning to do more" in a production that is "fluently and lavishly co-directed here by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright." Dominic Maxwell in the Times noted that while "the fame game means that it is Marti Pellow who gets top billing in this gripping revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's final full length show," the highlight is "Madalena Alberto's star-making turn as Eva Peron. She is simply superb." Michael Billington in the Guardian asked: "Has anyone thought of using surtitles in musicals? I ask because the one flaw in this highly skilled revival of the 1978 Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice show is the lack of attention to vocal detail," adding that "if the show still works, it is largely because it boasts one of Lloyd Webber's best, most tightly composed scores." While Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised "a fantastic set, high production values, some well-drilled dance sequences and one or two exceptional performances," he thought that "there are big cavities in the production which haven't been filled. And the biggest vacuum is Marti Pellow, whose Che Guevara is so free from charisma it makes you wonder what the character is doing there at all... Madalena Alberto fares rather better than Pellow, even if her delivery is more professionally skilful than passionate. But she handles Don't Cry For Me Argentina with some brilliance." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard thought that it was an "efficient revival... those indestructibly fine songs wow us once more. Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright direct slickly, employing a large ensemble to give a sense of both the lighter and darker sides of Buenos Aires life." Emily Jupp in the Independent wrote that "Madalena Alberto's "vocal range is fabulous as both a coquettish teenager and imposing First Lady but she lacks charisma... Marti Pellow plays a commanding Che and Matthew Cammelle is a statesmanlike Juan Peron." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail said that "Miss Alberto is superb as Eva, feeding off the crowds, her voice sure. Matthew Cammelle is good as Peron, Ben Forster does splendidly as nightclub singer Magaldi. Sarah McNicholas makes the most of her solo as the mistress. The dance sequences are crisp and energetic."
"Evita's story not only inspired Tim Rice's wittiest lyrics but Andrew Lloyd Webber's finest score, with its requiems, tangos, marches and that ballad... [Madalena Alberto] gives a performance of vocal splendour and dramatic subtlety, capturing every facet of a character that changes from Gigi into Lady Macbeth and Camille. Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright's production is heartfelt and stylish but betrays its touring origins in the lumbering scene changes. Alberto is well supported by Ben Foster, Matthew Cammelle and Sarah McNicholas. In the pivotal role of Che, however, Marti Pellow is as flimsy as a Guevara T-shirt." The Express on Sunday
"Spectacular arches and spacious balconies capture the architectural splendour of Forties Buenos Aires in Bill Kenwright's sumptuous revival of the rags-to-riches rise of Eva Duarte... Thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber's passionately pulsating, Latin-inflected orchestrations, a skinny and not terribly dramatic tale acquires an operatic pageant-like grandeur. And Bill Deamer's choreography makes it dance, filling this show with teasing tangos, passionate pasos dobles and whip-sharp waltzes... Madalena Alberto is indeed a star. Like Eva, she knows how to radiate. And Sarah McNicholas, as Peron's jilted mistress, delivers a showstopper with Another Suitcase In Another Hall. Only Marti Pellow disappoints as Che, the narrator, cynical about Eva's bid for sainthood and stardom Easy on the eye, he's dreary on the ear, an overgrown, over-amplified boy band crooner. But even he can't dampen the pleasure of Lloyd Webber at his best." The Mail on Sunday
Evita the Musical was originally seen in London at The Prince Edward Theatre in 1978 where is played for just over eight years. Tim Rice explains about the background of writing the musical that "not all of the many fantastic stories told about Eva Peron are true; but any of them could be true - she was an extraordinary woman. Anyone writing about her has no need to exaggerate in order to give his work a little colour; the most straightforward account of her short life will contain enough material to raise the most sophisticated of eyebrows. That is why we chose her as the subject of an opera which we began writing in early 1974... When I heard the last ten minutes of a program about Eva Peron on my car radio one evening late in 1973, I was not immediately struck by the idea that here was the perfect story for Andrew and me, but I was sufficiently intrigued by what I had heard to make a point of listening to a repeat of the programme a few days later. My previous knowledge of Eva Peron was negligible. I knew that she had appeared on many Argentine stamps when I was at school, that she was good-looking and she was dead. By the time I had heard the whole of the programme about her, I was hooked on the story of her life. Not, I hasten to add, on her philosophy or her morals."
The musical Evita in London at the Dominion Theatre previewed from 16 September 2014, opened on 22 September 2014 and closed on 1 November 2014