Review: Evita at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

By Julie Wallis twitter.com/nicenic63

Evita at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

The phenomenon that is Evita has arrived at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre and is an absolute must see piece of pure musical theatre magic. With music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, lyrics by Tim Rice and directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright, Evita has a very impressive pedigree.

Starring Lucy O’Byrne in the titular role with Glenn Carter as Che and Mike Sterling as Peron, audiences cannot help but fall in love with both the characters and the story of this poor young girl who was born into poverty, and eventually clawed her way to the position of Argentina’s First Lady.

The show opens with the announcement to a cinema audience that their First Lady, Eva Peron has died, the company sing Requiem for Evita and we then whizz back to where it all began.

L-R Lucy O'Byrne (Eva Perón), Glenn Carter (Che) and the cast of Evita UK Tour photo by Pamela Raith
L-R Lucy O’Byrne (Eva Perón), Glenn Carter (Che) and the cast of Evita UK Tour photo by Pamela Raith

I must admit I do love any musical by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Evita is no exception. Containing more than 20 songs, many of which have been chart hits over the years such as Oh What a Circus, Another Suitcase in Another Hall, and of course Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. But there are lots more fantastic songs that are less well known outside of theatre, I will always love Goodnight and Thank You, Rainbow High and Waltz for Eva and Che.

The last time I saw Lucy O’Byrne she was playing Maria in The Sound Of Music and I loved her, well I’m pleased to report she hasn’t changed a bit. Her voice is still as clear as Crystal and her performance as Eva is outstanding. Looking every inch the part with her neatly coiffured hair and ball gown I had to let a little tear or two slide down my cheek when she sang Don’t Cry for Me Argentina from the balcony, not tears of sadness you understand, just pure emotion, such was the beauty in that iconic moment. Miss. O’Byrne never belts out her songs like some power ballad, but instead, forms every note with a clarity, annunciating every word with skill and reducing me to a blubbering wreck.

Glenn Carter as Che leads the audience through the story as the years unfold, working as a narrator and a bystander. With an awesome cv which includes playing Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar both on stage and in the movie! His voice beautifully matches and compliments that of both Mike Sterling and Miss O’Byrne. With a richness and depth that actually sends shivers down my spine.

Lucy O'Byrne (Eva Perón) and Mike Sterling (Juan Perón) - Evita UK Tour photo by Pamela Raith
Lucy O’Byrne (Eva Perón) and Mike Sterling (Juan Perón) – Evita UK Tour photo by Pamela Raith

Mike Sterling plays Eva’s husband, and president of Argentina. He makes for a suitably handsome Peron next to his glamorous wife and together these three main characters make the perfect musical triangle. Each one perfectly compliments the others. Mr. Sterling has an equally impressive cv, having played the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera as well as Marius in Les Misérables and he has the most delicious voice too.

I could spend hours writing about the beautiful outfits everyone wears, or the lighting which changes the mood on stage literally at the speed of light! The huge cast, which looks great when they are all working together on the big scenes, the speed at which the scenery changes, with ease and fluidity. I swear there was a sharp intake of breath from the people around me when Eva disappears only to reappear seconds later in a completely different outfit. Choreographer Bill Deamer has done a truly fabulous job with all the big dance routines and they are all performed to music from a real orchestra.

Lucy O'Byrne (Eva Perón) and the cast of Evita UK Tour photo by Pamela Raith
Lucy O’Byrne (Eva Perón) and the cast of Evita UK Tour photo by Pamela Raith

I’ve barely had chance to talk about Oscar Balmaseda who plays Agustín Magaldi, the first man to be of use to Eva. But that’s purely because there is just so much to take in, you certainly get your money’s worth.

I absolutely adore the casting on this show, and I was buzzing when we left Coventry. The true story of Evita May be quite grim, but through the magic of musical theatre Evita is escapism in its purest form. A modern fairy tale that can not fail to delight young and old.

Evita is at Belgrade Theatre in Coventry until Saturday 29th September. Book tickets here: belgrade.co.uk/event/evita


This isn’t a sponsored post. #BrumHour was invited to see Evita by Belgrade Theatre.

When Julie is not blogging theatre for #BrumHour she can be found on her own blog at redandgoldweb.wordpress.com