Reviewed by Helen and Garry McWilliams
‘High Flying Adored’ was surely written for the superbly talented Madelena Alberto who received a standing ovation for what we felt to be the most outstanding portrayal of Eva Peron since Elaine Paige.
This was a powerful and emotive production of ‘Evita’, which in our opinion has always been one of Lloyd Webber’s best. Accompanied by an orchestra who threatened to burst open the roof at the packed Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, we were treated to the extraordinary tale of the lady who became Argentina’s First Lady. Narrated by the ever popular Marti Pellow (of ‘Wet Wet Wet’ fame) as Che, the first act is a whirlwind of activity as Eva moves from adolescence to adulthood within just a handful musical numbers. Bound for ‘Buenos Aires’ or ‘the Big Apple’, where Eva seeks to become a famous actress, was reason for a magnificent scene in the form of ‘Buenos Aires’ and the lyrics of this lively number were very well suited to its singer (Madalena Alberto) as we did indeed see ‘star quality’.
The choreography was eye catching, throughout and there were many opportunities for members of the ensemble to demonstrate their abilities. In particular, we noted excellent performances from Emily Goodenough and the alternate ‘Eva’, Hannah Grover. ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ was also performed to rapturous applause by Sarah McNicholas as Peron’s dismissed Mistress.
Peron had made his entrance prior to this and Mark Heenehan has been perfectly cast in the role, ‘I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You’ was a highlight and we’d be eager to watch his performance in other shows. If we were to fault act one, it would be to mention that Marti Pellow’s diction was not always audible – however, this was not the case in act two.
Although act one was nothing short of stunning, act two was even better, ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ did not disappoint, it showed off Alberto’s vocal range beautifully and probably deserved a standing ovation on its own. ‘Rainbow High’ was also a delight, with ‘You Must Love’ me rousing many tears and sniffles from fellow audience members, ourselves included. It is fascinating to watch ‘Eva’ grow from an over-enthusiastic young girl with hopes and dreams, to almost ‘fall from grace’ when her health begins to let her down.
It’s a heart wrenching, rollercoaster of a show with simply amazing scenery to accompany a strong cast among which there is no weak link. We feel it has been the show of the year so far and have no hesitation in recommending it. For tour information and to book tickets, please see http://www.kenwright.com/index.php?id=888, ‘Evita’ remains at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 31st August.