Review: WOS Musical Production of Evita at Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Review: WOS Musical Production of Evita at Tyne Theatre & Opera House

WEOS Musical Productions’ Evita

Tyne Theatre and Opera House – 10th April 2024

Following on from a sensational production of Fiddler on the Roof, WEOS Musical Productions return to the glorious Tyne Theatre and Opera House with their ambitious new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita which charts the rise to power of Eva Duarte from the dusty streets of Argentina to first lady of Prime Minister Juan Perón in the mid 1900’s. 

This is very near the top of my favourite tomes from the Lord of musicals so I was very excited to see what this very talented team would do with such an iconic musical and score and they certainly did not disappoint. The casting of all the main characters was superb and each and every member of the sizeable chorus provided the perfect backdrop to what is a triumphant but ultimately sad story about the very short life of a woman who is still held to almost sainted regard in Argentina. 

In this version, the audience is told the end of the story before the action is taken back to the streets of Argentina and a younger Eva Duarte who is from an impoverished background but has very lofty ambitions that this will not be her lot in life as she has eyes on stardom and ultimately power.  Her journey begins with a dalliance with tango cabaret singer Augustin Magaldi (Michael Wright-Brown.) This short affair leads her to the bright lights of Buenos Aires where she goes through several men before marrying Juan Perón (Liam Gilbert) and becoming the most powerful lady in the land. All the while, and ostensibly as an onlooker, uber left wing political activist and general trouble maker to the powers that be Che Guevara (Brian Jordan) is looking on critically as the aspirational social climber is using all her wiles to get to where she wants to be. 

Tragically, her influence was short lived as she was struck down by cervical cancer at the very young age of 33. 

This production really tugs at the heart strings and Hannah Ellis-Brown’s interpretation of the eponymous Evita is worthy of any stage including the West End. I know that Hannah has lived and breathed this part for the entire rehearsal period and that is testament to the performance that comes shining out from the stage. 

I cannot allow this review to go out without mentioning the herculean efforts of the ensemble who have more than their work cut out with the many characters they have to convey throughout Eva’s journey. It is almost exhausting to watch them. 

The orchestra, led by local theatre and professional pantomime stalwart Andrew Soulsby, is superb and a shout of for the brass this evening who nailed this complicated score with a great deal of merit.

The set from Scenic Projects is static but very effective and the stage crew worked hard to bring on additional elements to suggest where the current action was taking place. I do love a good flag drop and the end of act one offers the perfect opportunity for a series of kabuki drops to enhance a dramatic close to the first half. This along with some exquisite lighting from Paul Oliver of POSS Productions really enhanced the fantastic performances on the stage. 

Of course, without some amazing sound design provided by Jonathan Mellor of Tyne Audio there would be very little to hear but I can honestly say that save for a couple of times when Che was a little muffled over the chorus, I heard every single word. 

I have one minor quibble and it is with Eva’s make up towards the end of the show. For me, I would expect pale and gaunt; I found the eyes slightly odd and a little off putting.  

And so to my star of the show and it is a difficult one with so many stellar performances this evening but it goes to a young lady who is found on stage in one scene and is unceremoniously chucked out by the ever advancing Eva. In the programme she is called ‘The Mistress’ which I think is a little harsh as she was there first but my star of the show goes to Amy Grace Reid who sang ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ with effortless emotion and very nearly had me crying before I was supposed to.

If you like Andrew Lloyd-Webber then get yourselves along to this show. If you like musicals, The Tyne Theatre and Opera House is the place to be. Evita runs at this grade one listed Victoria theatre until Saturday 13th April with five performances left. Tickets are available from the box office and online.

Photo Credit: One Imagery Photography

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