They say you never forget your first Evita. Spotting Angela Killian, my first, in the theatre foyer on my way in to watch the show, I couldn’t help but think that there was no way this production would be any good without her in it. Angela smiled, gave me a hug and then told me how excited she was to see the show for the very first time. After performing in it a few hundred times, this would be the first time she would see what it looked like from the front. I’m sure she was not disappointed, especially with a talent like Emma Kingston in the title role to make sure that the shoes were sufficiently filled.
Evita is definitely a Lloyd Webber favourite. My date for the night (who on entering the auditorium did not know the difference between a musical and a pantomime, bless him) described it as being “quite epic”. Epic it is, as is usually the case when a show is directed by Harold Price and then reproduced with precision. And as my date continued to put so aptly, “it’s remarkably entertaining”. Bless him again, he could write the entire article for me in two short sentences.
I am usually morally opposed to importing lead artists to play title roles in our musicals. South Africa is overflowing (literally – we have artists performing all over the world) with talent and it seems a pity not to give the job to one of our many capable performers. Happpily, this time (maybe for the first time) I was completely blown away with UK’s Emma Kingston. Her vocals are simply superb and what followed from a mild Act I turned in to a powerhouse Act II. Every note from Kingston is carefully placed, and neatly delivered with enough grit to make her Evita real and multi-dimensional. She can stay.
Kingston is supported by a superb cast, including Jonathan Roxmouth who made a cynical and quippy Che who narrates the show. He was good as usual and this role in particular seemed to show him off more than I have seen lately. Other stand-out performances came from Stephania du Toit and Darren Greeff for a fierce tango, as well as the full vocal ensemble who conquered the tricky harmonies and really made magic. I usually don’t get FOMO when watching a show that I haven’t auditioned for, but this time I did. I really wanted to sing along and wear a fancy dress. They pulled me right in.
I will be watching this production again, especially to see LJ Nielson perform the role of Eva as alternate to Emma Kingston. I recommend that you book your tickets too. Evita runs at the Teatro at Montecasino until the 26th of November.