“Oh, what a circus! Oh, what a show!”

As you can tell from the title I saw this musical twice within a month…why? Because it was INCREDIBLE. It featured a stellar cast, staging and extraordinary dancing.
The show itself was at the Regents Park Theatre-which is an outdoor theatre in one of London’s royal parks. With it being an Open Air theatre both the stage and auditorium are uncovered and open for all kinds of weather (thankfully we had good weather both times we went!).

I will admit I am fairly new to the Evita fanbase having only listened to it for the first time around the end of July; that being said I ADORE it, like Phantom as soon as I listened to the soundtrack I fell in love- within hours Evita trip one was booked! Then after seeing it the first time I was AMAZED that the next day I booked to go again!

I really wish this was a permanent fixture in the West End because I would see it again in a heartbeat..and drag many many people to come and see it! Unless you have seen it I don’t think you’ll know how truly magical it was! It is tied with Phantom for my favourite show of the summer! Enough of me singing its praises lets dive in!

First up I HAVE to talk about the PHENOMENAL Samantha Pauly! Firstly why isn’t she more well known?! This girl is a POWERHOUSE! She KILLED it as Eva. Samantha had previously played the role of Eva in the States in the more ‘glammed up’ production of Evita but with this version, all the glamour was gone and there was nowhere to hide. I’m mentioning this because I’m not sure many performers would have been able to pull it off in the way Sam did! She is truly a triple threat as her dancing and acting were just as amazing! Her dancing in moments like ‘Buenos Aires’, ‘Rainbow Tour’ and ‘The Money Kept Rolling In’ were some of my favourite things to watch- she just looked like she was having the time of her life up there; her smile was contagious! Likewise, her acting in moments like ‘The Chorus Girl Hasn’t Learned (The lines you’d like to hear)’ and ‘You Must Love Me’ was like watching an A-Class actor doing their thing, she made you feel everything, every emotion and every word.

Her singing was by far the thing that stood out the most though! This girl could sing anything and sound incredible I’m sure of it! Her versions of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ and ‘You Must Love Me’ were magical. As I said above, she made you ‘feel’ every word; but on top of that, there was something else, it was almost like the ghost of Eva took over Sam for those specific songs as there was such passion in Sam’s voice which was amazing, to say the least. Whilst the big heart-wrenching moments were full of emotion, moments like ‘Goodnight and Thank You’, ‘Peron’s Latest Flame’ and ‘Rainbow High’ were filled with joy and humour- another thing that Sam does so well! Towards the end of the run, Sam suffered from allergies and at times wasn’t able to finish the performance because she would damage her vocals. I was so lucky to see Sam’s final full performance on the 20th which was the penultimate day. There were a few notes where if you were in the know you could tell that she struggled a bit, otherwise the singing as outstanding!

Next up is the fabulous Jon Tsouras – the understudy for Che, who I had the pleasure of seeing both times I went! This was another one of my “HOW is he the understudy?” moments! He killed it in the role! Especially as the first time I saw him, it was his debut as Che! His performance was just as incredible as all the principals! He, like so many of the cast, had powerful vocals and had a great stage presence! Let me tell you this man can SING!! Che isn’t an easy role, he pretty much sets the bar for how amazing the show is going to be when he starts with ‘Oh what a circus’. Especially the first time I thought “Wow this is gonna be incredible” and I was right! He worked really well opposite Samantha as Eva which was shown the most in songs like ‘Goodnight and Thank You’ and ‘Peron’s Latest Flame’ where they were equally witty and fun. All his moments were great to watch but by far my favourite Che song was ‘The Money Kept Rolling In’. Both times I watched it I was amazed, it was such an incredible number which was only added to by Jon’s great vocals! During the end of the second act during ‘The Waltz of Eva and Che’, Che gets 2 big buckets of liquid and then confetti thrown at him; which looked like it would be FREEZING! (Especially with it being an outdoor theatre in the autumn) Thankfully, when at stage door, we asked Jon if it was as unbearable as it seemed and he let us in on the fact that there was a hidden heater by the area that he was laying!

Moving on to the charming Ektor Rivera who played Juan Perón, another fantastic performance I was able to see both times! He, like Sam and Jon, was able to portray their character perfectly – he was able to capture Perón’s charismatic personality and leadership. I understand Perón is probably the third most important character in the story but I wish there was at least one other song from Perón’s point of view; to go with his rather short ‘She is a Diamond’ which is at the end of Act 2. That being said I loved the parts of Perón we saw but would definitely have liked more! I enjoyed his version of ‘She is a Diamond’ especially! He was able to make you feel every word and every emotion that Perón were feeling in that moment…just wish it was longer 😂 . I also enjoyed his chemistry/scenes with leading lady Sam – mainly ‘I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You’ – the song in which Eva and Perón meet for the first time; I thought it was a really great take- Sam flirty and bubbly and Ektor smooth and charming.

I have to talk about Frances Mayli McCann who was in the role of The Mistress/Ensemble! She was an amazing member of the ensemble and my eyes were drawn to her in the big dance numbers. On top of that her short role as The Mistress was another outstanding performance. As I said earlier, all the glory of this show was stripped back and especially in this song it made the lyrics stand out which was even more heartbreaking than I expected them to be! Frances has such sweet and soft vocals which were perfect for the song! After seeing it live the first time, the song ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ shot to my favourite from the soundtrack- which I credit to Frances’ amazing performance!
As of writing this blog, it’s just been announced that Frances will be taking over the role of Eponine in the Les Miserables tour as of November 18th!! Break a leg, Frances!!

Like Frances, Adam Pearce was also in 2 roles. The first of which was Augustin Magaldi, the man who brought Eva to Buenos Aires and in the musical is quoted as “The first man to be of use to Eva Duarte” and his second role is in the ensemble. Adam really made me laugh as Magaldi! Especially when he turned up just before I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You, in the orange get up with a handful of confetti. He was a great comedic relief!

The Ensemble

The ensemble in this show was wonderful! Like so many shows, it would be nowhere as near as amazing without the talented ensemble and this was no exception! This production was filled with an amazing mishmash of dance styles which were performed by the skilled dancers; especially the song ‘The Money Kept Rolling In’ which was a complete spectacle! All of the ensemble were incredible BUT I have to give Marsha Songcome a shout out! She was ensemble and understudy Eva which is a challenge in itself but at the end of the run, she was 7 months pregnant!! Incredibly she was still performing and dancing as well as all the other cast!

The Production

The set for this production was so simple! It was practically just a set of stairs with oversized letters at the back but it was so well used! The steps gave the show an added dimension; the performance was almost 3D.
In addition to the set, there were a lot of props like confetti and streamers used in the big moments like Don’t Cry For Me Argentina and A New Argentina.
In the song ‘Goodnight and Thank You’ the ex-lovers of Eva were handed balloons to signal that their time with Eva is over. Similarly in the song ‘Art of the Possible’ all of the candidates for the election were holding balloons which were popped by an ensemble girl standing behind them in a seemingly random order to signify they were out of the political race. Simple yet incredibly effective.

Standout Moments

With such a great show it’s hard to pick out just a handful of standout moments but my top 5 in no specific order are:
The Money Kept Rolling In: This number was just so electric and atmospheric which was added to by great vocals and dancing.
Another Suitcase in Another Hall: As I mentioned after seeing Evita the first time, it shot up to my favourite song from the musical (Where it still is) because of Frances incredible performance.
Don’t Cry For Me Argentina: Who doesn’t love this song? Samatha’s version of this was full of power and strong vocals which made it a joy to see.
A New Argentina: This song is The Act 1 closer, Its full of dancing, confetti, streamers and high energy, It’s tied up there with One Day More from Les Miserables for my favourite Act 1 Closer and it was certainly one of my favourite moments from the show!
Buenos Aires: This was my first favourite song from the soundtrack so I loved seeing it on the stage, Samatha was filled with joy singing it and so were the ensemble who were dancing to it! They all looked like they were having so much fun which was great to see!

Take a look at the official trailer, you’ll be sorry you missed it!

A Surprise Guest!

During the bows on the 20th of September performance out of nowhere, Tim Rice one of the composers of Evita came out of the audience and gave a little speech! Which was an added bonus to a great night! Speaking to Ektor at stage door after the show, we learnt that the cast didn’t know he was there until the interval!
Check out the video of Tim’s speech below!

Overall

Overall as you can probably tell I adored this show! It was moving, it was powerful, it made you laugh, it was 2 hours of pure escapism which is what all musicals should be! It had a stellar cast and was one of the best productions of a musical I’ve been able to see!
Can it be on every summer, please?!