It is hard to believe that Evita is almost 40 years old, and nearly 20 since the movie starring Madonna was released, yet this is the first time an amateur company has been awarded the full rights to perform the show.  Up until now only schools and youth groups have had these rights, but tonight’s performance proves that Mossley was the perfect choice for an amateur premiere.

Evita is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. It concentrates on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Peron, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Peron. The story follows Evita's early life, rise to power, charity work, and eventual death.

This production is directed by Lee Brennan fresh from the hugely successful Ghost the Musical earlier this month at the Oldham Coliseum, another premiere.  His tight staging is a joy to watch with the added precise choreography courtesy of Elizabeth Linden.

Kerry Newton as Eva Peron is perfect in the role displaying ferocity and fragility in equal measured amounts. The shows most famous song, Don’t Cry For Me Argentina is powerfully delivered and you feel Newton is speaking to the entire audience, not just her assembled supporters on stage.  Her final scenes as her death draws closer are heartfelt played with sincerity.

Juan Peron in this production is played by Jon Crebbin who has a certain likeness to the Argentine military officer and politician.  With an operatic voice many would be jealous off he gives a powerful performance without fault.

The star of this production is without doubt John Wood as Che Guevara.  His confidence and swagger as he commands the stage for almost the entire show is stunning.  And with a voice to match some of the professional actors who have taken on this role in the past could learn a thing or two.   

This production has one of the strongest ensembles I have seen in a long time in an amateur production.  As a group they all sound fantastic and their facial expressions during scenes are on point, something some amateur productions fall down on for me.

The orchestra of 11 (1 more than in the recent London production at the Dominion Theatre) is led by Paul Firth are superb throughout.  The set design is simple but hugely effective transforming the small stage into the required settings using just 3 main structures rotating and rolling into position.  The set is complimented by stunning costumes throughout.

Entertainment Manchester was founded to promote both professional and amateur theatre in Manchester and the surrounding areas.  We believe amateur theatre is an important part of communities all over the area, and productions such as this just go to cement our belief.  Roll on the next production.

Reviewer: Paul Downham

Reviewed: 22nd April 2015

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