Evita Comes to Milton Keynes

A new musical coming to town is always exciting and Evita was no exception. Based around the life of the vibrant Eva Perón, it’s an incredible story of the rise of a young aspiring actress to the first lady of Argentina. It’s a story with a dark turn as Ché, the narrator and representative of the opinions of the Argentine people, tells the tale of Eva doing “nothing for years” and shows the audience how Eva slept her way up the social ladder until she reached the top; advancing her career as she did so.

The glorious Emma Hatton stars as Evita and, having previously seen her several times in Wicked, I had high hopes for her performance. She shows Eva’s strength and determination and beautifully displays a elegant sassiness that only a first lady can possess. Emma’s voice has a richness to it that, again, displays an elegance that suits her perfectly for the role of Evita. She commands the stage and I found it very difficult to peel my eyes away from her.

Gian Marco Schiaretti, playing Ché, was a casting that I was very nervous about. His theatrical repertoire is extremely limited having only played Tarzan in Stuttgart and Romeo and Juliet’s Mercutio in Italy. “Oh What a Circus” is Ché’s first big number and Schiaretti instantly shows that a lack of experience by no means reflects a lack of talent. If I hadn’t have known he was relatively new to the musical game, I never would’ve guessed. His voice is immensely powerful and the anger behind his singing perfectly resonates with the thoughts of the people of Argentina. I was consistently impressed by his performance, but when it came to “And the Money Kept Rolling In”, in Act II, he reached another level. His falsetto blew me away and I was sat there gawping for the entire number. It was at that moment I realised Schiaretti is a rising star and definitely one I will be keeping my eye on. I predict he will be landing leading roles by this time next year and I’m very excited to see what he does next.

Evita is a truly enjoyable, uplifting yet dark story of a woman who rises to power but comes crashing back down as soon as she reaches her peak. The songs were catchy, heart-felt and beautiful and I couldn’t fault a single one. My only fault lies with the story telling itself. This is a musical that hasn’t been done by halves and dialogue is kept extremely minimal throughout. The issue is that this means there is more time singing than story telling and I feel the story of Eva has not been portrayed as well as it could be.

The main skeleton of the story is she moves to Buenos Aires and she sleeps her way to the top, only stopping when she meets Juan Perón, a ruthless military man, at a charity ball. Perón is then elected President with Eva by his side, Eva travels Europe as a first lady then runs for Vice President. Her ambitions consume her and she ignores her deteriorating health until it’s too late, and dies at only 33. This musical only skims the surface of her life and, perhaps it’s just me being greedy, but I would’ve loved to have had just an extra half an hour, another five or six songs, just to gain a bit more depth to her life. I suppose it’s a compliment in a way, however, that the show just left me wanting more…

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