The current touring version of Evita, at The Kings this week, is a very mixed bag.
Of the three principal parts, Peron is the least satisfactorily written. However, Mike Sterling – go to the top of the class. Probably the finest Peron I’ve seen – and I’ve seen Perons aplenty – this is a nuanced performance, and the almost-recitative dialogue between Peron and Eva as she dies is a revelation. Great voice, too.
Lucy O’Byrne is the most soprano of Evas with a beautiful voice that shifts easily to the belt that Elaine Paige used for her entire performance, and the acid test for any Eva – Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina – is beautiful and thoughtful and sincere. Her You Must Love Me was understated, underplayed and beautiful.
Sadly, Glenn Carter, while fine of voice, is simply too old for the 17-to-24-year-old Che Guevara. A peek at his Wikipedia entry will tell you by how far.
The ensemble needs a shot in the arm. One got the feeling that a lot of their work was ‘Evita By Numbers’ and scenes that should inspire (particularly the finale to the first act, A New Argentina) lacked any lustre they once may have had. This may be unfair on the performers – it could be down to poor direction and unimaginative choreography. I appreciate the limitations of the stage, but A New Argentina represents millions of Argentines rising in support of Peron; here we had half-a-dozen ensemble with some very uninspiring placards and a very empty stage.
Overall – very average.