Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are known for transforming unexpected stories into musicals and ‘Evita’ is no exception. For those who are unfamiliar with the musical, it follows the story of Eva Peron, First Lady of Argentina during the 1940s. It is set during a time of political unrest and cleverly presents the character of Che (Mike Noble) as the voice of the people in challenge to Evita.
This musical is mostly based on historical events with some poetic license given for storytelling purposes and is therefore incredibly dark and serious at times. The cast took this in their stride and painted the scene of Argentina during this time. The chorus sang in the haunting harmonies written by Lloyd Webber, and blended their voices to create the illusion of a much larger crowd of mourners at the death of Evita. The cast achieved a powerful volume which aided in portraying the shock of the nation.
Evita is a challenging musical to stage but PGS created smooth staging transitions using sliding doors and clever choreography. Congratulations to the staging team for delivering on the logistics of the staging!
While much of the story revolves around Eva, the portrayal of the people of Argentina is also a vital part of the production. For this a strong ensemble was required. The ensemble were carefully choreographed to move effortlessly around the stage. The action included partnered dancing, the adoring crowd and showing the unrest between the classes.
The part of Eva was split between Helen Haviland and Lucy Oliver. Lucy Oliver played young Eva and showed her spirited rise to the top with high energy dancing. Then Helen Haviland played a wiser and worldlier Eva, who had learned how to play an audience. The most spectacular aspect of Helen’s performance was her portrayal of Eva’s descent into illness. Suddenly the vulnerability started to show in this invincible woman.
Clearly the team of actors, musicians, and stage hands have worked tirelessly on this production of Evita. I hope everyone at PGS is proud of their work – as a member of the audience I was taken in by the story, songs and cast.