Evita at the Dominion Theatre
I always say the beauty of theatre is that everyone has different opinions. One mans trash is another mans treasure. Some people will love a show and others will hate it. I must have missed something as there have been a plethora of 4* reviews given today. I’ve never given a 1* review before but sadly I feel I would be lying to myself and everyone reading this if I rated it any higher.
I really, really wanted to love Evita, which opened last night at the Domimion Theatre. I was so excited to see the production (which is back in the West End for a limited season of 55 performances) that I even turned down a ticket to the Miss Saigon gala performance to attend press night. As I sat in my seat before the show started, I was already planning when I would come back to see it again before it closes. As soon as the show started, I realised there would be no next time.
Marti Pellow is simply wet wet wet as narrator Che. His voice is totally unsuitable for the part and for musical theatre in general. I saw Ricky Martin play the role on Broadway a few years ago and although he was pop-star-casting, at least he could sing it. I actually feared Marti Pellow was going to die from trying to hold a note at one point. He uncomfortably pushed his diaphram to try to squeeze every last moment out of the note (or lack there of).
Portuguese performer Madalena Alberto went through a mixture of accents during the performance. At times sounding English, American and very occasionally some kind of Spanish. There is no doubt that she can sing, but her portrayal of Eva Peron was lifeless and empty. When her husband is arrested, surely she should have passion in her voice? Apparently not as the song is sung as though being performed in a cabaret. Her performance was perfectly summed up by a line at the end of the show. “Your eyes, your smile, have lost their sparkle”. Sadly she never had any to begin with.
The saving grace in this show is the ensemble who make a great effort and look good in the choreographed numbers and routines.
Direction is shoddy. At the beginning of the show we see Eva Perons coffin being wheeled off stage in a way that reminded me of taking your shopping trolley back to the bay at the supermarket (not with the care you would expect for a vessel housing the body of an icon). The song Rainbow High involved a several full length mirrors being used as part of the dance routine which caused the audience to be blinded by reflecting lights several times. How this wasn’t picked up during the rehearsal process is unknown to me and was a major faux pas that should never have been allowed to happen. The set in general looks good, although nothing special. The way the pillars come in and out is nice and it all comes together well.
Unfortunately this is a classic example of a show being put on in the West End with no thought or care given to it. You simply take a well known show, dust off the set that has been used before, add a celebrity and wham bam you have a show. Unfortunately the public aren’t prepared to pay top dollar for this anymore and it is making a mockery of what the theatre capital of the world should be about. Quality productions.
You will notice I haven’t mentioned the story of Evita. That’s because your guess is as good as mine from the production I saw last night. For a show that is sung through entirely, the performances need to tell the story but sadly the story is lost here.
Fans of the show will no doubt love seeing it back on the West End stage and fans of Marti Pellow will squeal in delight at seeing him. For me, I was terribly disappointed and saddened at the way a classic, beautiful show has been treated.
Go and see it while you can, as after all Evita is a much loved show and everyone should make up their own minds. The critics love it and so maybe I’m wrong. All I can do is give my honest opinion.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Evita is playing at the Dominion Theatre until 1 November 2014. Click here to book tickets.
Click here to enter my competition to win tickets to see the show and check it out for yourself.
Photo: Philip Toscano