Review Roundup: Critics Weigh In On Tina Arena In EVITA At Sydney Opera House
Australian icon, singer, songwriter and musical theatre star Tina Arena plays the role of Eva Peron in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's EVITA in Sydney. EVITA, one of the most celebrated classical musicals of all time, is now playing at the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House. Get a first look at the cast in action below!
Throughout a stellar 40-year music career, theatre has been a constant presence for Tina, having starred in productions in Australia and internationally. Her theatrical work includes Cabaret, Nine, Dynamite and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Now ten years after Tina wowed critics on the West End as Roxie Hart in Chicago, she is back with her most challenging theatrical project to date, Evita.
After sell-out productions including South Pacific, The King and I and most recently the 60th anniversary production of My Fair Lady, John Frost and Opera Australia will again re-create one of the greatest works of music theatre, the original West End and Broadway production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's EVITA, directed by Hal Prince.
Legendary Broadway director Hal Prince has won 21 Tony Awards, more than any person in history. Hal Prince will be joined by fellow original West End creative team members including choreographer Larry Fuller and designer Timothy O'Brien.
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's EVITA is iconic, with more than 20 major awards to its credit including the Olivier and Tony Awards for Best Musical, a Golden Globe and an Oscar for the film version starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas.
Featuring some of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's best loved songs including 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina', 'On This Night of a Thousand Stars', 'You Must Love Me' and 'Another Suitcase in Another Hall', EVITA charts the story of Eva Peron, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Peron, from her humble beginnings through to the extraordinary wealth, power and status which ultimately led her to be heralded as the 'spiritual leader of the nation'.
This musical captured the attention of the public when it was first staged in 1978 and in its 40th year and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 70th year, Opera Australia and John Frost are thrilled to bring this "modern masterpiece" (New York Post) to Australia in all its original glory.
Performances began September 13th. For tickets and more visit evitathemusical.com.au.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Joyce Morgan, Sydney Morning Herald: With staging that utilises real images of the Perons, this Opera Australia-John Frost co-production may be less flashy than the mega-musicals that came in its wake. But it is a classic show that puts performance centre stage and leaves the audience to decide what to make of this divisive woman.
Ben Nuetze, Time Out: This new Australian remount of that original production mightn't always have the dramatic sharpness you'd hope for, but it remains a uniquely intellectual piece of musical theatre. The score sounds exquisite with this cast and orchestra, under musical director Guy Simpson, and Larry Fuller's highly stylised, Latin-inspired choreography still packs a punch in numbers like 'Buenos Aires' and 'And the Money Kept Rolling In', and in quieter moments, establishes the class structure of Argentina.
Emily Saint Smith, The Au Review: The only downside of the show is the choice to include You Must Love Me, a song written for the 1996 movie version and its star. Arena's vocal chops are wasted on this dirge and the completely empty stage gives the song no context in the narrative. But it is a minor transgression.
Jade Kops, BroadwayWorld: The rest of the casting however is on point. Brazilian baritone Paulo Szot giving Juan Peron the requisite gravitas with a delicious rich tone as the aspiring military leader who takes Argentina's ultimate position of power. The opera singer who regularly crosses over to musical theatre and has graced the more intimate cabaret stages of New York understands the need to engage with the character to deliver both a vocally rich performance but also a well-acted expression. He also infuses the character with the right mix of ambition and an arrogance that considers his status above the scrutiny of his personal pursuits as he openly entertains school girls whilst Eva is touring Europe.
Diana Carroll, Arts Hub: Tina Arena makes an impressive Eva. She is simply stunning in the famous balcony scene at the opening of Act 2 when she enters in a white ball gown and bling and gives voice to the show's iconic song 'Don't Cry for Me Argentina'. Arena has a powerful voice and handles all the songs with panache. Kurt Kansley conveys all the guile and charm of the revolutionary Che, striding across the stage as both narrator and commentator. Paulo Szot is a powerful Colonel Peron whose strong, rich baritone gives him strength and gravitas. Michael Falzon is an engaging figure as Magaldi and Alexis Van Maanen has a beautiful moment as Colonel Peron's spurned mistress with her heart-breaking song 'Another suitcase in another hall'. The ensemble and children's chorus add to the experience of Evita and the Latin dancing is especially evocative. Largely unseen down in the pit, the 29-piece orchestra, under Musical Director Guy Simpson, gave a splendid performance.
The Daily Telegraph: With its stark black box set and simple staging, the production was groundbreaking when it premiered. Today it feels somewhat dated, with its follow-spot lighting and wheeled-on props looking clunky at times - though the on-screen footage still works exceptionally well.