Evita is a splendid production – vocally, visually and orchestrally.
The Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s offering of Evita, directed by Gordon Combes is robust and energetic. A large cast of all ages combine in a very well rehearsed chorus that not only sounds magnificent but moves beautifully in often intricate crowd scenes. The choreography by Sarah Williams is inventive and entertaining.
Musical Director Jillian Gulliver and the orchestra veiled from view at the rear of the stage are to be congratulated on their performance and significant contribution to a great musical theatre experience.
The five principal leads are excellent. Jared Frost as Che gives a superb and consistent performance throughout as the common man commentator on Evita’s life. His vocals are strong and clear with exceptional diction and he has a naturally commanding stage presence.
James Nicholson as Magaldi demonstrates wonderful musicality with warmth in his voice. When he is not at the forefront of the drama you can still hear his rich voice as a member of the chorus. Grace Carter as Peron’s discarded mistress sings the hauntingly beautiful solo of Another suitcase in another hall in a pitch perfect performance to resounding applause.
James McCluskey-Garcia as Juan Peron has the necessary gravitas for this role and he plays it well. His choreographed interactions with the generals and the soldiers are very good.
And at the forefront of all is Tegan Gully-Crispe rising to the challenge of a very demanding role as Eva Peron and delivering a quality performance in drama, song and dance. Her rendition of Don’t cry for me Argentina has the wow factor both vocally and visually. But there needs to be a pause in the action after that song to allow for the audience to give it the show-stopper applause it deserves. Tegan’s style and elegance are perfect for this role.
There are many musical highlights for me in this production, for example Che’s Oh what a circus, Peron and Eva’s duet I’d be surprisingly good for you, and Che and Eva’s High Flying Adored.
Another major feature are the costumes and the umpteen costume changes for principals and chorus. Congratulations to designer Ann Humphries and all of the costume, wigs and makeup support crew who made it all flow well.
This is a wonderful example of the excellent value entertainment in amateur productions that we are blessed with here.