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Evita at The Liverpool Empire Theatre

by Chris High. Published Wed 25 Jan 2017 10:43, last updated: 25/01/17
(c) Pamela Raith Photography
(c) Pamela Raith Photography

In these days of political turmoil - with Britain once again destined to be set aside in its silver sea and an Oompah Loompah in the White House - Evita, which is running at The Liverpool Empire Theatre until Saturday, could not be a more appropriate production to stage. A stark reminder that nothing ever changes in the art of the possible, Evita really does take some beating.

For those who don't know, this is Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's take on a poor little farm girl, who dreams big, screws over just about everybody, country included, dyes her hair, meets the most powerful / weakest man she can, marries him, gets the crowd on her side, falls ill, dies and becomes immortal enough to have a monolithic musical written about her.

What's not to like and what's not to recognise?

What it takes for the show to soar is a cast that is into it and, rest assured, this ensemble truly are. From first to last Gian Marco Schiaretti as Che is gold dust. His power and enigmatic charm shimmers, so that we as one are drawn beneath his spell. Oh, and he can sing too. Not just the standards such as High Flying Adored and Oh What A Circus, but the meatier numbers also; Rainbow Tour and A New Argentina are particularly energised by his presence and charisma. The Latin, Italian voice helps too. And the Latin Italian physique.

A mention should also be made of Sarah O'Connor's Mistress. Another Suitcase In Another Hall is such an iconic song - as are so many in this show - that to falter would spell doom. Falter? Not a bit of it. O'Connor totally and absolutely glories in the opportunity, raising the vocals to new heights and deeper passions than ever possibly imagined.

For a role in which his presence is so central, that of Peron must be pretty unique in the fact that his does not have a killer song. Kevin Stephen-Jones, however, slips in and out of songs like a man trying on a favourite jumper. His smooth rounded performance shimmering in the brighter lights being cast all around. Peron's weakness is exemplified in the fact that he doesn't have a killer song, which Jones utilises to the max.

Yet without an Eva, there is no Evita. I have been privileged to witness some pretty damn good ones across the years and, trust me, Emma Hatton is no exception. Her vocal style is tight and engaging, whereas her acting, replete with its little flicks and tricks, takes the performance still higher. I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You is sassily sexy.

Buenos Aries is filled with hope. You Must Love Me drips agony. Yet, as with all Eva's , the role lives and dies on the delivery of Don't Cry For Me Argentina and Hatton positively engulfs it as though the song were written for her not Julie Covington all those years ago.

The delicious sets, spectacular costumes, fabulous lighting and superbly performed live orchestration add yet more layers to this beautifully proportioned onion of a show so that by its curtain, the audience are on their feet en masse saluting a fine, fine musical extravaganza of poignancy, craft and style.

Evita
The Liverpool Empire Theatre
January 24 - January January 28, 2017
Cast Includes: Emma Hatton, Gian Marco Schiaretti, Kevin Stephen-Jones, Oscar Balmaseda, Sarah O'Connor, Natalie Langston, George Arvidson.
Running Time: 2 hrs 30 mins
PR RATING: ***** Evocative



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