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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 17:12 GMT
Lloyd Webber to revive Evita show
Andrew Lloyd Webber with Evita actress Elena Roger
Argentine actress Elena Roger will star in the new Evita
Andrew Lloyd Webber is to revive his hit musical Evita in the West End this summer with an Argentine actress in the lead role for the first time.

The show tells the story of Argentina's iconic former first lady Eva Peron.

It was a huge success when it was first staged in 1978 but has not been seen in London for more than 20 years.

Singer and actress Elena Roger will take the lead role in the new production when it opens at London's Adelphi Theatre in June.

Elaine Paige was the first person to play the part in the original stage show and Madonna starred in a film version in 1996.

Elaine Paige in Evita in 1978
Elaine Paige starred in the first production of Evita in 1978
Lloyd Webber described Evita as "the pinnacle" of his collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice but said he would now rework some of the songs.

When the pair wrote the musical in the 1970s, they "didn't know that much about Latin American music at the time - there's so much more music available to us now", he said.

"One of the reasons that I felt I wanted to be involved in the production was to re-look at the orchestration," he said. But he would not write any new tunes, he added.

Announcing the production in London, the composer accompanied Roger on the piano while she sang the show's most famous song, Don't Cry For Me Argentina.

Buenos Aires-born Roger, 31, who has starred on stage and on TV in her home country, was chosen above a string of British and American stars.

She delivers an authenticity we couldn't dream about when we started the casting process
Director Michael Grandage on Elena Roger

"We've seen some brilliant British actresses and some brilliant American actresses," said the show's director Michael Grandage, who is also artistic director of London's Donmar Warehouse theatre.

"But we found what we were looking for with this extraordinary performer and extraordinary actress.

"She brings something to it that delivers an authenticity we couldn't dream about when we started the casting process."

Roger said she wanted to play Peron because she was "a very important woman in history".

"She was very strong and fought against a lot of the problems that she had," she said.

'No comparisons'

Roger has never seen the stage show but did watch Madonna's film version. She said: "Please no comparisons. She was wonderful in the film."

Last year, Evita came in the top 10 in a BBC Radio 2 poll to find the UK's favourite musicals.

Lord Lloyd-Webber is also planning to use reality TV to find the lead for a forthcoming production of The Sound of Music.

His latest musical, Woman in White, is to close in the West End in February after 19 months.

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