Review: EVITA at Centrestage Theatre - Orewa

Sophia Pedersen plays the resourceful Evita with great passion and theatrical flair.

By: Mar. 22, 2021
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Review: EVITA at Centrestage Theatre - Orewa

Shortly before her death in 1952 at the age of 33, Eva Peron was bestowed with the title "Spiritual Leader of The Nation" by the Argentine Congress.

After her husband Juan Peron was elected President in 1946, Eva became a powerful figure within the pro- Peronist Trade Unions, running the Ministries of Labour and Health and she founded the charity, Eva Peron Foundation. She championed Women's Suffrage and founded, and ran, the nation's first large scale female political party.

She was hated by the military and the bourgeoise but beloved by most of the Argentinian people and was looked upon by most of the population as a living saint.

The Musical Evita, Lyrics by Tim Rice and Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, largely overlooks her work, concentrating on portraying her as an ambitious, manipulator determined to win at all cost.

Makes for a dramatic show.

Sophia Pedersen plays the resourceful Evita with great passion and theatrical flair. She makes the transition easily between an opportunist young 15-year-old actress, to a powerful force "Mother of The Nation", seamlessly. Her vocals soar and her performance is faultless. Pedersen has superb skills in timing a character's path.

George Keenan-Davies, as Che, narrates the story as a universal "everyman", leading us through the plot while providing the audience with social commentary, although, as we know, as a historical figure Che was never part of the Peron story. He was actually a leader in the Cuban revolution. Keenan- Davies's performance is cheeky, cynical, angry, extremely well sung, paced and nuanced.

John Hellyer plays a stoic Juan Peron, unaware that, although he has the title of President, he has become "the consort" of his wife Eva!

Savannah Schreuder, as Peron's Mistress, stole the hearts of the opening night audience with a heart-breaking rendition of "Another Suitcase In Another Hall". After the final note you could have heard a pin drop before one of the bigger ovations of the evening.

Martin Rhodes, as Magaldi, was suitably confused and confounded by an incredibly determinedyoung Evita, who was never going to take no for an answer.

The "look" of this production was vastly different from the lavish style usually employed in this production. Director Reg Williams banished the grandeur of tall columns, suggestions of huge, cavernous hallways, large desks and sumptuous salon rooms and instead by utilizing 3 main multipurpose staircase structures, a bed and some multi purposed rectangles has delivered new minimalistic staging to the show.

The set moves, managed by the ensemble in almost balletic precisions, allowed the ensemble much more stage time than normal. William's vision was rewarded by an ensemble who were disciplined and sympathetic in their stillness and reactions. Well-rehearsed and drilled, it demonstrated how much a good ensemble, in the hands of an experience Director, can add to a scene/scenes.

Musical Direction by Catherine Carr highlighted her talent with producing excellent vocals from a cast, particularly in this production where the score is quite complex.

Choreographer Lizzie Burns choreography is inspired, well drilled and entertaining.

Well done to the entire Creative team.

Evita plays until Thursday 1 April.

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