Evita at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Boasting a young and flamboyant appearance, Jamie Lloyd’s Evita definitely catches the eye for its vividness and modern twist. It is a pity the show doesn’t completely deliver despite the noteworthy musical and dance numbers.
A young orphan, Eva Duarte finds her way to Buenos Aires, where she attempts to climb the route of a glamorous career in show business, relying on lovers and her charm. Fundraising for the survivors of San Juan’s earthquake, Juan Perón raises his profile among the Argentinian people, and meets Eva. The two fall in love and start dreaming of power together, building and attracting the support of those forgotten by the aristocracy and politicians.
The musical opens with an explosion, in the literal sense, with the blasting of confetti and smoke, promising a grandiose display in the next couple of hours. Requiem, reenacting the funeral of beloved Evita, is staged with smart choreography, and a delightful chorus, already proving the visual aesthetic tricks that can be played with – and the company’s skills in dealing with them – as they move up and down, left and right across the steps the stage is made of. After that first song, though, the plot starts becoming hazy, the events evolve without a clear flow, with the beats losing a good part of the initial energy and fascinating cast movements. The show needs a very strong leading lady. Samantha Pauly is graceful, and her teenager-like Eva is a light fit but couldn’t impress as the saint her character is supposed to be. Trent Saunders as Che is smooth and a grand interacting presence, whether passing by and being the narrating voice for Evita’s acts or covered in paint in the open air.
There are some great dancing moments: the whole ensemble cast is outstanding, offering passionate and flawless modern tango and aerobics. The production could have been lifted to another level by just spreading these moments more over the running time. For sure, there is a lot of colour, fireworks and a buzzing score, enough to enjoyably entertain.
Photo: Marc Brenner
Evita is at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre from 2nd August until 21st September 2019. Book your tickets here.