Theatre Review: Evita

Tegan Gully-Crispe inhabits the character of Eva Peron and looks every inch the part

Presented by Gilbert & Sullivan Society of SA (aka G&S Society)
Reviewed 23 September 2021

Its no secret that Evita is far from this reviewer’s favourite musical. Andrew Lloyd Webber has written some brilliant music, paired with Tim Rice’s lyrics, but the result is not always my cup of tea. Any show which opens with a funeral and focuses on such a dark period of history has its work cut out. Having said all that, you don’t have to like the show to appreciate the production. Gordon Combes has put together a talented cast to present this production, complete with a chorus that has beautiful harmonies.

The split-level set, designed by Combes, serves well as the palace steps and the many other places needed. The production starts in an Argentinian cinema in the moment Eva Peron’s death is announced. From there the story is told by Che an admirer and ultimately an opponent of her rise to fame, fortune and celebrity. Jared Frost is totally believable as Che and the chemistry with Evita ignites the story. As the Diva, Tegan Gully-Crispe inhabits the character and looks every inch the part, interacting with James McCluskey-Garcia (as Peron) and creating the mesmerising effect that Evita exuded. All three do justice to High Flying Adored, with Frost establishing his point of view with What A Circus, while McCluskey-Gracia shows his metal in Art Of The Possible and I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You with Gully-Crispe.

The celebrated number will always be Don’t Cry For Me Argentina and Gully-Crispe more than does it justice, creating a compelling figure and showing her vocal ability. Other good points of the production were Night Of A Thousand Stars from James Nicholson as Magaldi, the chorus backing for all the crowd scenes and the standout number Another Suitcase Another Hall sung beautifully by Grace Carter.

Full marks to the production team for a smooth-running, polished performance. Lloyd Webber’s music is notoriously difficult and Musical Director Jillian Gulliver has coached the cast well; just as Sarah Williams has used her dancers to best advantage, not overdoing the Latin influence but including some beautiful tango moves subtly. The appropriate costuming by Hayley Snoswell coupled with the attention paid to wigs by Vanessa Lee Shirley creates the right atmosphere, enhanced by Tim Bates’ lighting. Obviously Combes knows how to pick a production team as well as a cast.

Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Twitter: @franeds

Venue: Arts Theatre
Season: 23 Sept-2 Oct 2021
Duration: 2hrs 30 min (including interval)
Tickets: $20-$40

Bookings: 8447 7239 or www.gandssa.com.au

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