Feb 8 2017 | By More

★★★★★   Star-kissed

Edinburgh Playhouse: Tue 7 – Sat 11 Feb 2017
Review by Thom Dibdin

Evita returns to the Edinburgh Playhouse with more than a little starryness about the turns, to match the starry nature of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.

Bill Kenwright’s touring production, last seen at the Playhouse in February 2014, gives a strong sense of the operatic to the late seventies show. The bursts of rock music consciously jar with the solid drama of the story of the country girl who became the first lady of Argentina.

Emma Hatton as Evita. Photo Pamela Raith

What this new tour has, that the previous one didn’t, is a full quota of hugely talented performers who are able to take on the major roles. Not to forget an extremely talented local youngster to take on one of the lesser ones too.

In the title role, Emma Hatton is quite the most nuanced and vibrant Evita seen in Edinburgh for years. She does have form – she recently finished playing the role of Elphaba in the London West End production of Wicked – so it is not too unexpected that she has the vocal chops.

But she also brings all the necessary elements of frailty and drive to ensure that Eva Duarte is a fully rounded character. As the young girl from an impoverished family who sets out to ensnare touring tango singer Magaldi to take her with him to Buenos Aires, she has both poise and an arrogant belief in her own abilities.

When she gets her lungs round the big numbers they thrum. And her first duet with Kevin Stephen-Jones as a solidly poised Peron in I’d be Surprisingly Good For You is a real treat of ebb-and-flow as the balance between the two characters tips one way and then the other.


But in truth, Hatton’s ability to let rip is nowhere near as effective as those moments when she brings her voice right down to a whisper. In doing so, she has that remarkable ability to make the 3,000 capacity Playhouse feel like an intimate venue.

Gian Marco Schiaretti as Che. Photo Pamela Raith

Also at the top of his game is Italian singer Gian Marco Schiaretti who takes on the role of Che, the narrator who provides continuity to the whole show with his acerbic, cynical asides. Schiaretti has the vocal depth and power to give the role the gravitas it deserves – while also providing a suitably well-toned physical appearance.

This sense of cynicism is crucial to the production, helping tease out the status of Evita herself and ensuring that she is never portrayed in absolute terms as either all good, or all bad.

Oscar Balmaseda has a great time as Magaldi, delivering his On This Night of a Thousand Stars with real authority. And becoming somewhat sheepish when his one-night stand with Eva is revealed. Sarah O’Connor brings a sweet clarity to the role Peron’s mistress – thrown out on her ear when Eva gets her claws into him. O’Connor’s Another Suitcase has all the drama and regret you would hope for.

internal drama

If Act One is a nicely turned out piece of musical storytelling, Act Two opens with the kind of staging that leaves your eyes stinging in anticipation. Peron’s On the Balcony of the Casa Rosada is all anticipation yet it seems that everything is pretty much finished when Mark Howett’s lighting suddenly lets you know that more is to come and Eva enters for her stint on the balcony.

Which, of course, means Don’t Cry for me Argentina – a much over-played song and one which others have made their own. But for which Hatton shows her intelligence as a singer, finding and digging deep into its own internal drama.

In fact the whole sweep of emotion of Act Two is handled with great care by Hatton and Schiaretti, while the large cast provide tight – and tightly choreographed – support.

There’s a lovely highlight with Santa Evita, given a wonderful performance by a (sadly un-named) youngster from Mary Erskine school. But that never detracts from the declining arc of the final years of the still young Evita’s life, succumbing to human frailties of greed and arrogance, before her body gave out, and she died of cancer.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with one interval)
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA.
Tuesday 7 – Saturday 11 February 2017.
Daily: 7.30pm. Matinees Weds, Thurs & Sat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and booking details: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/evita-2017/edinburgh-playhouse/

Tour Website: http://www.kenwright.com/microsite/evita/#home
Twitter: @OfficialEvita
Facebook: EvitaTheMusical

Evita on tour 2017:
7 – 11 Feb Edinburgh
Playhouse Theatre
0844 871 3014 Book online
14 – 18 Feb Bristol
Hippodrome Theatre
0844 871 3012 Book online
21 – 25 Feb Wimbledon
0844 871 7646 Book online
7 – 11 Mar Oxford
New Theatre
0844 871 3020 Book online
14 – 18 Mar Salford
Lowry Theatre
0843 208 6000 Book online
20 – 25 Mar Cardiff
New Theatre
029 2087 8889 Book online
28 Mar – 1 Apr York
Grand Opera House
0844 871 3024 Book online
4 – 8 Apr Sunderland
0844 871 3022 Book online
11 – 23 April Munich
Deutsches Theater
+49 89 55234444 Book online
25 – 30 April Zurich
Theater 11
+41 44 318 62 62 Book online
9 – 13 May Wolverhampton
Grand Theatre
01902 429 212 Book online
16 – 20 May Leeds
Grand Theatre
0844 848 2700 Book online
23 – 27 May Milton Keynes
0844 871 7652 Book online
30 May – 3 Jun Dartford
Orchard Theatre
01322 220000 Book online
6 – 17 Jun Dublin
Bord Gais Energy Theatre
0844 847 2455 Book online
20 – 24 Jun Blackpool
Winter Garden
0844 856 1111 Book online
27 June – 9 July Hanover
+41 511 9999 1111 Book online
11 – 16 July Basel
+41 61 699 88 99 Book online
18 – 23 July Dusseldorf
Deutsche Oper am Rhein
+49 211 89 25 211 Book online



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Comments (2)

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  1. Suzanne Senior says:

    Is it the version with the Latino orchestration? It was a new version in London 11 years ago – wondered if it was the same?

    • Thom Dibdin says:

      That, I am not sure of. The whole thing is Latino-tinged and the rock element is downplayed…