NODA REVIEW 31 May 2019
EVITA by Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber
Performed by Festival Players
Directed by Kirsty Smith
Musical Director: Paul Garner

Co-Choreographers: Kirsty Smith & David Mallabone

Evita features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice and is one of their most successful musicals. The show is based on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Peron who became the spiritual leader of the nation rising from nothing to become one of the most famous political figures in the country’s history. The show tells of her rise to fame through the eyes of the people, using a narrator to chart her journey.

Anyone who has seen the show knows it starts with the young Eva who is an actress and does not really care who she steps on to get where she wants to be. Narrating the story of Eva’s rise is Che played by Jonathan Padley who prowled the stage ever watchful and ever present, weaving in and out and sometimes participating in the action whilst providing narration and observations. He has a fine voice as evidenced in ‘Oh What a Circus’ and ‘High Flying Adored’. Evita is a role most female actors would give their eye teeth to play. It is a demanding one and needs both vocal and acting skill to bring it to life. Emily Pratt definitely brought the part to life. Her vibrant voice was marvellous. This was a bravura performance.

The first love interest of Eva was Magaldi a Tango Singer played by Deejay Latchuman who has a super voice and a great stage presence. Working her way up the ladder Evita loves and leaves many broken relationships behind her until she comes to the attention of Peron who becomes the President of Argentina. As with the role of Eva apart from being good vocally this requires a good actor to get the most from this part and Rich Evans did an excellent job. Mention must go to Karen Turner, she was The Mistress of Juan Peron until Eva threw her out when she became his lover. Karen sang “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” absolutely superbly and with conviction.

The only real scenery was the balcony high above the stage forward of the musicians with steps leading to it. Balcony and steps were well used with anything else in the way of scenery, furniture or props added as required. The lighting design (Eddy Langley and Rob Loxley) was of a very high standard and well done to sound designer Nick Hall and his assistants, the control of body mics was excellent. Costumes (Liz Milway assisted by Pippa Taylor) were excellent and hair and make too all added to the style.

Producing any show is a great team effort but for this show in particular, the role of the Musical Director is paramount and well deserved praise must go to Paul Garner who, with his hard-working musicians, coped with a difficult score – no time to relax in this show, which is more or less sung-through. He brought together some beautiful singing from the ensemble.

There are five principal players in the show but Director Kirsty Smith added a sixth with the Ensemble. From the opening scene in the cinema, the announcement of Eva Peron’s death and the candlelit procession as they took the stage with “Requiem” to the final curtain 22 people held the audience spellbound every time they came on with their wonderful singing and superb dancing – at the same time usually.

Choreographers Kirsty Smith and David Mallbone created amazing dance routines which were carried out faultlessly and were of the highest calibre.
Festival Players once again took on a challenging show with Evita. The challenge was well met and deserved the sell out houses it undoubtedly enjoyed. Congratulations to all involved.

Julie Petrucci
Regional Representative NODA East District Four South