Review Roundup: Was Regent's Park's EVITA High Flying Adored By Critics?
Evita is produced by William Village and Timothy Sheader for Regent's Park Theatre Ltd by special arrangement with The Really Useful Group Limited. The cast features Samantha Pauly (Eva Perón), Ektor Rivera (Juan Perón), Trent Saunders (Che), Adam Pearce (Agustín Magaldi) and Frances Mayli McCann (The Mistress).
Evita premiered in the West End in 1978, and features a chart-topping score including Don't Cry For Me Argentina, Oh! What A Circus, Another Suitcase in Another Hall, and the Academy Award-winning You Must Love Me, originally performed by Madonna in the motion picture.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Caroline Cronin, BroadwayWorld: One rarely encounters a performance as unapologetic as Samantha Pauly's in the titular role of Eva Perón. Ruthless and ambitious to the end, Pauly's Eva storms her way into the hearts (and beds) of as many influential men as possible, eventually clawing her way to the ultimate prize - becoming the First Lady of Argentina.
Julia Rank, The Stage: The grandeur of the late Hal Prince's original staging gives way here to something more instinctive, but no less flamboyant, in Jamie Lloyd's pulsating open-air revival with its fireworks and extravagant confetti showers. Soutra Gilmour's stark, stripped-back design with concrete bleachers and distressed 'EVITA' signage is suggestive of a down-at-heel rock concert.
Sarah Crompton: WhatsOnStage: You can tell it's going to be different from the start, when Samantha Pauly's Eva Peron starts to crawl up the steps to her own funeral. Dressed simply in a white slip and sneakers, with her raven hair tumbling over her shoulders, she looks more like a disco dancer than the woman who became the power behind the throne in Argentina; she looks nothing like any Evita has done before.
Marianka Swain, theartsdesk: Jamie Lloyd makes effective, surprising choices throughout, serving Rice's incisive lyrics and allowing us to hear Lloyd Webber's indelible score afresh - the latter given a rich, articulate rendering by the onstage band under Alan Williams. Even the weary standard "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" is presented in an interesting way, restlessly ambivalent about the extent to which Eva buys into her own celebrity and fake populism, and whether either can begin to satisfy her need for validation.
Rosemary Waugh, Time Out: Trent Saunders's Che-in-a-Che-T-shirt has flashes of an earnest Political Science undergrad just returned from a summer in Cuba. At times it seems like he's just there to kill her buzz, or to almost-jealously interrupt her interactions with Colonel Perón. But the relationship between them develops into something truly fascinating.
Nick Curtis, Evening Standard: Jamie Lloyd injects his staging with a pizazz and energy learned from game shows and Trump rallies, firing confetti cannons and smoke bombs at us along with the barrage of songs. The production's beating heart is American actress Samantha Pauly, who possesses a beguiling blend of butter-wouldn't-melt charm and sensual guile, a pristine voice with a steel edge, and more than a touch of star quality.
Arifa Akbar, The Guardian: There are hints too that the production is being played as a high-school musical, with the characters, including Perón, decked in white trainers and an athletic chorus wave pom-poms at one point and twerk at another. Fabian Aloise's choreography sometimes resembles a pop video with an awkward edge of Strictly Come Dancing, although other moments are eye-catching, not least a modern Argentine tango.