REVIEW: Evita @ The Palace, Manchester

Madalena Alberto as Evita

It was stunning performances by a strong cast that made this production of Evita, a show worth watching.

But seeing for the first time the Rice and Lloyd-Webber take on the woman who battled to escape the obscurity and poverty of her life as a struggling actress to become the spiritual leader of the nation – it simply confirmed my prejudice that the musical theatre legends are really not all their cracked up to be.

Given the adulation bestowed and Rice and Lloyd Webber I would have expected more. I would have expected a decent script. This is a musical built around one brilliant song – Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.

The classic song is delivered expertly with passion and drama by Madelena Alberto who is sensational in the lead role.

And there can be no doubting the production values of the show, with some spectacular and impressing staging and sets. Jeremy Secomb also impresses in the role of Juan Peron.

But all of this is let down by the risible treatment of the story by Rice and Lloyd Webber which is formulaic and at times quite lazy. If you like the formula, you’ll like this – I don’t.

Mention should also be made of Gian Marco Schiaretti who is excellent in the role of Che who acts as narrator and a kind of conscience of the nation. It is a good device, albeit one borrowed from the role of Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.

But overall, there were a lot of plus points in this production – not least those amazing performances with Alberto shining brightest and if you’re a fan of Lloyd Webber and Rice, you’re bound to love it.

Runs till Saturday December 9

Dave Toomer

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