Playhouse, Edinburgh, until Sat 21 Jun
Performers bursting into song for no apparent reason is the slightly odd, but wholly accepted, calling card of musical theatre. But what better way to sidestep that moment of incongruity than to never stop singing at all? Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber saw the merit in this many years ago, and Evita is a prime example of just how well the strategy works. From the opening bars to the closing notes, not a word is spoken, only sung.
The success of this, obviously, rides on the voices doing the singing. Happily, this production of Rice/Webber’s 1978 musical has vocal talent to spare. Louise Dearman is utterly believable as the political diva, Eva Peron, changing from a hungry teenager desperate for stardom, to a fragile 30-something facing her untimely demise. Seamus Cullen (of Any Dream Will Do fame) is equally strong as Che, the narrator who holds the whole show together.
The songs have turned up in so many places over the years, from Madonna’s chart hit, ‘You Must Love Me’ to ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ being used for the sing-off in I’d Do Anything, that it’s great to actually hear them in-situ. And although fitting a major chunk of Argentina’s history onto a musical postage stamp isn’t easy, we walk away with the general idea.
Slick chorus numbers, the easy blend of personal/political storyline and, of course, the Rice/Lloyd Webber dream team score keep this show as fresh as the day it was born.