Bill Kenwright’s latest touring production of Evita is a tour de force of energy, vibrant colours and enthralling performances. Having previously toured back in 2008 and 2014, this new company stars Emma Hatton, (fresh from playing Elphaba in Wicked), as Eva, and Italian newcomer Gian Marco Schiaretti as Che.
Beginning in 1940s Argentina, Evita tells the story of Eva Duarte, an actress who marries Juan Peron, colonel of the military regime that has just seized power. After he is elected president of the country in 1946 Eva rises to become the First Lady of Argentina. The story is an almost soap opera-esque rags-to-riches tale, with commentary on the cult of celebrity in the post WW2 era.
Emma Hatton is totally compelling in the title role, perfectly capturing Evita’s youthful naivety and manipulative charm in the first half, and then transitioning seamlessly into the ambitious politician’s wife in the latter half. She performed the musical’s most famous song, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, standing on a balcony wearing a glittering white dress, and it was in that moment that we truly got to see both Eva’s and Hatton’s star quality. The emotion behind her beautiful soprano reached even the farthest corner of the theatre and by the end I wasn’t the only audience member reaching for their tissues.
Other standout performances came from Schiaretti as Che, who was an enchanting narrator, effortlessly carrying the audience with him and providing several wonderfully comic moments. Sarah O’Connor as the Mistress gave us a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Another Suitcase in Another Hall, and there was also strong support from Kevin Stephen-Jones as Peron. David Steadman and the band provided enthusiastic accompaniment to all the performers.
The show will be touring around England until the end of May and I urge you to catch it while you can!