IT’S an iconic role famously played by Madonna and Elaine Paige – and now a former Portsmouth schoolgirl has stepped into their shoes to star in Evita.
Ex-Portsmouth High School pupil Abigail Jaye, 31, has been delighting audiences around Europe as the heroine who rises from the Argentinian slums to marry the country’s military dictator, General Peron.
Eva Peron most famously sings Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina in the show, written by Lord Lloyd-Webber and Sir Tim Rice.
Abigail, who took a BTec in performing arts at Chichester College before training at the Mountview Academy in London, is the daughter of opera singer Jacquelyn Fugelle and former Portsmouth music teacher George Johnston.
The family lived in Portsmouth before moving to Chichester when Abigail went to college there.
She said: ‘I have been playing Eva on tour for just over a year, mostly in Europe, but I have only just discovered we are going to take the production to the Mayflower in Southampton.
‘It will be fabulous because family and friends can come and see it.
‘And it’s fabulous to be back in England now because it was raining in Istanbul where we were last week.’
She said the only problem with playing Eva was knowing where to go next.
‘People say you can do whatever musicals you want after this, but what else is there?
‘It’s the kind of role I never considered for myself because you just don’t, do you?
‘You get new musicals but to do a real classic about a real person is special.’
Ms Fugelle has seen Evita on several stages on its European tour and said she had been treated like royalty by theatre managers when they discovered she was Abigail’s mother.
But she, too, is delighted that the tour is now heading for the Mayflower.
‘I’ve been performing in opera galas on P&O liners and doing a lot of opera and recitals, but I’ll make sure I’m free to see her again,’ she said.
‘I have a T-shirt saying “I’m Evita’s mum”. I know I’m biased but she’s fantastic!’
Ms Jaye’s previous credits include the Narrator in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Isobel in Scrooge The Musical. Evita will be at the Mayflower from September 2-5.