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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Critics hail Evita stage revival
Elena Roger as Eva Peron
Elena Roger, who plays Eva Peron, was born in Buenos Aires
Hit musical Evita's return to the West End stage after a 21 year absence has been largely praised by critics.

Benedict Nightingale in The Times called it a "riveting show", while Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph said it would be "a huge and durable hit all over again".

Quentin Letts heaped praise on Elena Roger, who plays Eva Peron, describing her as a "first-rate Evita".

The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about Argentinean First Lady Eva Peron first opened in 1978 with Elaine Paige in the title role, and ran in the West End for seven years.

Both Lord Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice, who wrote the witty lyrics, were at London's Adelphi Theatre to see the latest production, by Michael Grandage.

"This is a special night for us," said Lord Lloyd-Webber.

"Tim and I began working on this show in 1974. It's wonderful to see it back in the West End after so many years."

'Sparky' talent

Evita is based on the life of Evita Duarte, the actress who married Argentinean president Juan Peron, and became the most loved and hated woman in Argentina.

Grandage chose the unknown Argentinean performer Roger over well-known faces to play Peron.

"Argentine Senorita Roger is big, big news," said Letts.

"What she has... is a sparky charge of talent.

"You notice it when she kicks her legs like the blades of a flick knife. You notice it when, such a titch, she hoofs it up to front of stage flanked by beefy boys playing soldiers.

Lord Lloyd-Webber and Rice joined the cast on stage for a curtain call

"Her Eva is credible as a former working-class 'descamisada' (proletarian)."

His view was shared by Nightingale who said Roger "commanded" the stage and danced well.

"There's also a brashness in her voice, at times so jarring that I thought my ears were being attacked with an electric screwdriver - but then again, wasn't that Evita?"

He added: "It's rare and refreshing to get a musical that, as well as being awash with alluring music, interests itself in politics, especially foreign politics."

Michael Billington, writing in The Guardian, was cooler about the production.

He said: "Although the show is pleasing to watch, it never achieves the ecstasy one looks for in a musical.

"And Grandage, who scrupulously seeks out the dramatic content in every musical he directs, is here confronted by a lack of real conflict or substantial characterisation.

"The show... is best enjoyed as a kaleidoscopic musical pageant," he added.

Watch an interview with the actress playing Eva Peron

Lloyd Webber settles old scores
01 Feb 06 |  Entertainment
Lloyd Webber to revive Evita show
31 Jan 06 |  Entertainment
Lloyd Webber's West End cash plea
12 Nov 03 |  Entertainment

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