REVIEW: Evita, Opera House, Blackpool

Emma Hatton stars as Evita
Emma Hatton stars as Evita

A nation rising, to back a leader championing the cause of ‘the many, not the few’.

Sounds familiar?

Gian Marco Schiaretti and Emma Hatton star as Che and Eva in Evita

Gian Marco Schiaretti and Emma Hatton star as Che and Eva in Evita

It’s funny how a musical written more than 40 years ago can reflect today’s society.

You can’t help but spot some parallels with 2017 Britain in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita - although Jeremy Corbyn certainly lacks the glamour of young Eva Duarte.

Evita tells the story of Eva Peron, wife of former Argentine dictatorJuan Peron - from her humble descamisado - ‘shirtless one’ - beginnings, to wealth and power.

This tour of the show certainly brings ‘star quality’, with Emma Hatton dazzling in the title role, from the ambitious 15-year-old village girl to steering Colonel Peron to the presidency.

There’s more than a passing similarity in the vocals between Emma and stage legend Elaine Paige, who debuted the role in London in 1978, and her decline in health towards her death

from cancer aged just 33, is heartbreaking to watch - even though calculating Eva isn’t necessarily a character you sympathise with.

Countering her glittering rise, is narrator and cynical everyman Ché, played with plenty of Latin American machismo and incredible vocals by Gian Marco Schiaretti.

In supporting roles as Peron, the hapless singer Magaldi and Peron’s Mistress, Kevin Stephen-Jones, Oscar Balmaseda and Sarah O’Connor all add to the drama.

A strong ensemble shifted from free-spritied villagers, to rousing descamisados, via the aristocracy with ease, thanks in large part to Bill Deamers brilliant choreography, at each turn reflecting the moment perfectly - although at times it wasn’t quite sharp enough.

Boosting the company were children from Blackpool’s Michael Hall Theatre School with special mention for the soloist on opening night.

Until Saturday.