EVITA | London, Phoenix Theatre

The new touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s classic 1978 musical (featuring the iconic hit “Don’t Cry For and Argentina”) has made a deserved smash return to the West End.

Emma Hatton, well-known for her wicked witch in Wicked, brings her gobsmacking contemporary pop vocals to Eva Perón. As Evita the ambitious and manipulative power-behind-the-throne, Hatton exudes charisma. As Evita the sex icon with a string of high-power lovers, she is less convincing, and this lack of chemistry in particular with President Juan Perón (Kevin Stephen-Jones) leads to an unfortunately lacklustre would-be tragic ending.

Italian heart-throb Gian Marco Schiaretti plays Che (based on Che Guevara), who serves as the audience’s wry and disparaging guide to Evita’s quest for sainthood. Although sounding bizarrely camp and mousy in the quieter moments, Schiaretti has a staggering, full-bodied voice, and completely dominates when he gets the chance to let rip in Act II.

Elegant, brushed Argentian stone arches and columns provide the cleverly shifting and endlessly attractive sets, providing ample space for the lavish costumes (especially for Evita’s sworn enemy, the middle-classes). It is a shame the full-orchestral score sounds so synth-heavy here, but luckily the whole cast are so good, and the ensemble numbers so engaging, that the show still captivates. The truth is, she never left us.

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