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Evita at Birmingham Hippodrome - Review

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Political and powerful musical returns
Iconic musical Evita is back in Birmingham on a whistle-stop tour and this time it stars one of the West End's leading ladies.

Evita, musical, tour, Birmingham Hippodrome
Evita charts the rise to power of Eva Peron

Portuguese-born actress Madalena Alberto has won acclaim for some of the most coveted roles in musical theatre in London and now turns her hand to one of the most controversial women of 20th Century politics - Eva Peron.

Charting the rise to power of the actress, who became the first lady of Argentina, this musical by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber is layered with themes of social politics, power, romance and the raw ambition of one woman.

It's performed at Birmingham Hippodrome from 20 March to 24 March as part of a new international tour, and for those unfamiliar with the show, it's a musical with continuous songs and no dialogue.

It opens with Eva's death in 1952 and quickly transports the audience back in time to experience her journey from an ambitious teenage seductress in rural Argentina to the saint of the people.

Buenos Aires and its baroque architecture is recreated through a series of extravagant sets of huge colonnades, pretty balconies with winding staircases and churches, often looked over by huge saint-like paintings of Eva.

Evita, musical, tour, Birmingham Hippodrome
Che represents the voice of the Argentinian people in the show

What's refreshing about this show is that it is hugely political and rather than an adoring portrayal of Eva, it's cynical and revealing about her methods. Representing the voice of the people is the character Che, who often highlights how things get worse for the masses rather than better during the Peron's reign and period of state reform.

There's also an element of class war and how high society treated an outsider like Eva.

Playing Che is impressive Italian performer Gian Marco Schiaretti (pictured above). He has a real presence on stage, and not just due to his well-built physique, although he did recently play Tarzan in the live Disney show. It's his voice and performance that make it hard to take your eyes off him.

Ultimately, it's leading lady Alberto who fittingly shines brightest. She has a superb voice and gives an emotional performance as Eva, particularly in the final scenes at a hospital. It's no surprise that she is pitch perfect as, after all, this is a woman who has played some of the best female roles in the business from Fantine in Les Miserábles to Grizabella in Cats and even Edith Piaf in show Piaf by Leicester Curve.

Alberto gives masterly performances of extremely difficult songs like Don't Cry For Me Argentina, You Must Love Me and Lament. If you've seen the movie with Madonna, it's worth coming to see this live stage show to experience how the songs really should be sung with absolute control and power.

Evita, musical, tour, Birmingham Hippodrome
Big sets and dance routines feature in Evita

It's a stellar international cast all round, and that includes Broadway performer Jeremy Secombis as Argentinian President Juan Peron. He is fresh from playing the title role in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street on Broadway and has a dominant edge that reflects Peron's military prowess.

With a cast like this, they can do justice to the many well-loved songs. Classics like On This Night of a Thousand Stars, Another Suitcase in Another Hall and The Actress Hasn't Learned (The Lines You'd Like To Hear).

Evita, musical, tour, Birmingham Hippodrome
Timeless songs include Another Suitcase In Another Hall

Evita has been going strong for three decades and this latest tour shows that its political themes of dictatorships, the celebrity gaining the popular vote and military coups are still just as relevant as they ever were.

What's more, it's a slick show performed to an amazingly high standard with an impeccable cast, costumes and sets. It ensures that Evita continues its reign as a powerful, passionate and a politically intelligent musical.

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Why? See iconic musical Evita while on tour
When: March 20 - 24
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome
Cost: From £15
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