Dynamic, powerful and engaging right from the get go, this international tour of EVITA is proving that audience members do not have to choose between excellent vocals or fantastic acting chops, that it is possible to have an experience at the theatre with both elements in their top form by the company. Together with a versatile set and a live orchestra playing, this production is nothing short of exciting and heartfelt.
It comes as no surprise that this very production by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber has won over 20 awards globally, and continues to mesmerise audiences right here in Singapore.
EVITA tells the story of Eva Perón (by charismatic Emma Kingston), late wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Perón (by stoic Robert Finlayson). Following through her rags to riches journey, audience is being treated to a historically inaccurate but beautiful tale of the Argentine people’s ‘spiritual leader of the nation’. Set in Argentina’s capital city Buenos Aires between 1934 and 1952, there is also Che Guevara (by charming Jonathan Roxmouth) who speaks against Eva’s glowing reputation and serves as her antithesis throughout the show – challenging her in physical presence and exposing all her innermost thoughts to the audience.
Kingston and Roxmouth match each other in their vocal prowess, making their duet Waltz For Eva And Che one of the most memorable songs in the musical besides Kingston’s heartfelt solo of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. Hitting every note almost effortlessly and being consistent in her delivery, Kingston impresses us with her voice while carrying us through the emotional journey of Eva successfully.
Her transformation from being a seductive young woman to being plagued with cancer is subtle and gradual, which made the progression so realistic that audiences empathised with Eva. Instead of being a mere caricature executing the difficult songs, Kingston manages to bring out her character in a wholesome manner.
Isabella Jane, who plays Juan Perón’s lonely mistress, may not have as much stage time but manages to leave a lingering impression with her haunting performance of Another Suitcase In Another Hall.
But the one aspect that I really enjoy is the diversity within its ensemble. From different ages to a variety of races, EVITA has got them all. Perhaps it is partly due to the writing as well as the context of the musical, but I must say how the diversity on stage really impact my experience. In the age where plenty minority groups are still having to fight for representation and to topple discrimination, it is a big deal that an award-winning musical chooses to work with such a diverse group of actors and performers.
It is one step to also dispelling the myth that actors have an expiry date to their career.
In the scene of the riot and the big show of support for Juan Perón’s campaign to be president, the diversity shown through and this added plenty of layers to what this political musical might mean for the people of today.
Together with the capable cast and ensemble, being accompanied by simple yet strong props to get every scene’s point across, EVITA is a solid performance of team work and talent. This is certainly a musical that would easily top 2018, and the year has only just begun.
Originally written for Popspoken