Last night as I travelled to the Millennium Forum in Derry I really was excited about the prospect of seeing the musical Evita once more. It had been 9 years since I last saw this, and back then I wasn’t blogging or writing, and certainly not reviewing. I can only recall being totally blown away by the show and ever since I’ve wondered if it was my innocence back then, or if it really was as brilliant as I envisaged that night many years ago. Last night I was about to find out.
Accompanied by two friends, whom I’d insisted just had to see this show, I was a tad nervous in case I’d got this wrong. Just a few weeks ago I was delighted to speak with and interview the current Eva Perón, Lucy O’Byrne. She fueled my determination to enjoy this production with her passion and enthusiasm for her role as Eva. Lucy clearly loves her character and is immersed in everything about her at present. Of course it helps that Lucy is an Irish lass too. What huge shoes she is filling (Elaine Paige and Madonna’s to name but a few)?
And so the curtain went up last night at approximately 8pm. Immediately I knew I hadn’t mistaken any of those emotions or feelings of elation, 9 years ago. This was everything I’d remembered and more.
Having seen a huge variety of theatrical productions over the past 6 years, I was trying to ascertain just why Evita had held fast to my heart all this time. It wasn’t hard to piece together last night. This is a production of substance. A production with depth. A production with emotion and with passion. And it’s a story with history, ambition, love and determination. What’s not to grab you? It’s a story you might love or hate, but you just can’t help getting into the Argentine frame of mind. Eva Perón changed the lives of many people. But primarily she changed that of her own. She started out with ambition but ended up with achievement and respect. She’s someone I certainly admire and one really can’t detract from her fight.
To say Lucy O’Byrne fitted those shoes perfectly would be such an understatement. She fitted them with style, with class and with the most professionalism one could possibly expect. Having returned from a week’s holiday, she and the entire cast blew the Derry audience away last night.
Mike Sterling gave an equally brilliant performance as Juan. And of course one cannot forget the ever present Ché on stage. Glenn Carter owned his role and he just brings the entire show together and keeps it there.
One would have heard a pin drop as O’Byrne burst into ‘Don’t Cry for me Argentina’. No-one could have sung this better. A real queen of musical theatre Lucy certainly is. And this showcases it to perfection.
There’s just such a piece of history attached to this musical. It’s sense of reality and its very rootedness makes it a step above every other piece of musical theatre I’ve ever seen. I’ve waited 9 years to confirm this is the best I’ve seen, and I’ve confirmed that last night.
There’s more to this show than just music and a story. This goes so much deeper.
The singing quality was faultless from the entire cast last night. This was by far one of the best musical and choreographed pieces I’ve ever seen. And oh that stage setting! How theatrical and apt?
If you want to see a piece of musical theatre which you will never forget, then Evita is it. With an outstanding cast, and Irish colleen Lucy O’Byrne as Eva Perón, this runs at Millennium Forum Derry until this coming Saturday night. It’s the show to beat all others and I will stand by that for the next 9 years and more.