Forty years on Evita’s remarkable story is now more significant than ever

Lucy O'Byrne (Eva Peron) - Evita UK Tour - (c) Pamela Raith-102

In these days of Me Too and women generally gaining a greater grip on the way the world is governed,  Eva Peron’s contribution to the cause must not be overlooked.

For a woman born into poverty and who embarked on a rags to riches story to become the spiritual leader of her native Argentina and on the way meet heads of state, get a shedful of honours, upset the country’s military leaders, overcome the stigma that was attached to a female with hands on the reins of power, Evita Peron the legend lives on.

Forty years after Evita the musical hit the London West End stage the remarkable accomplishments of Eva Duarte, later second wife of Argentine president Juan Peron, and member of the Peronist Feminist Party live on.

Those with long memories remember the 1976 Julie Covington concept album of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s masterpiece and the early stage version with Elaine Page and David Essex as Che Guevara- in the musical he is known as Che so we must presume it is Guevara although Evita never met him.

Now we have the umpteenth version of Evita, touring the UK and currently at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley (until September 22) courtesy of Bill Kenwriht and starring Dublin’s Lucy O’Byrne as Evita – she was a high flyer in the UK The Voice – Glenn Carter – Jersey Boys and Jesus Christ Superstar and Les Mis are on his very extensive CV – as Che and Mike Sterling – another Les Mis veteran – as Peron.

They are surrounded by a plethora of all singing and dancing ‘Argentine’ priests, soldiers, police, generals, former Evita lovers, adoring members of her public, artistocrats – they didn’t take kindly to the Peron politics – and politicians.

It all contributes to a superb melting pot of a musical of which we will never tire and it is lit and decorated beautifully – there were six articulated lorries out in the car park carrying the equipment and wardrobe need to stage the show.

And Lucy O’Byrne is simply wonderful as Evita and her emotional version of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina is worth every minute of it. And she  thoroughly deserves the standing ovation she gets at the end of the night.

Che is the glue which holds the Peron tale together and while Carter may not be a twinkly eyed David Essex he brings a sense of grittiness to role as he observes, from the sidelines the rise and eventual fall- to cancer- of an incredible woman.

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Words: kevin black

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