Saturday 2 December 2023


 Curve, Leicester

1st December, 2023

High flying, adored

So young, the instant queen

Following on from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar (the latter playing at Curve in February), Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice collaborated on their next hit, Evita. Hal Prince’s 1978 production provided breakout roles for Elaine Paige and Patti LuPone as Argentina’s first lady and tabloid diva Eva Perón. 45 years on, Nikolai Foster’s revival (which is this year’s Christmas show at Curve) nods to the chic and glamour of that original production, whilst giving the musical a modern aesthetic, stripping back the political context to focus on the nature of power and how it changes Eva.

As the house lights lower, the safety curtain rises on our protagonist’s coffin on a high platform on an otherwise empty stage. The company, dressed all in black, surround her coffin singing “Requiem aeternum dona Evita”. The austere image instantly pitches Eva Perón, however much the audience might know of her, as an iconic figure to the people of Argentina. Appearing from the audience, we’re introduced to Tyrone Huntley’s narrator Che. There are a few moments in the production where you’re not quite sure who you’re supposed to be watching, but once you’ve spotted Huntley, he is instantly likeable. Che is an everyman whose commentary on the action takes us through twenty years of history. Huntley’s Che is youthful, perhaps existing outside the timeframe of the narrative, and whose omniscience makes him the show’s conscience.


One of the criticisms often levelled at Evita has been that it shies away from Eva Perón’s fascist leanings, controlling the press and squashing any dissenters of her husband, who modelled his politics on Mussolini – briefly mentioned in ‘Rainbow Tour’, but not delved into any deeper. The distancing effect of the musical, as written by Lloyd Webber and Rice, often poses a challenge for productions that wish to get their teeth into the subject matter with a little more bite. Should we empathise with Evita? Is she really a saint? Despite some strikingly austere military-inspired choreography from Adam Murray, the political context is not the focus of this production, more so Eva’s rise to power and ability to connect to the people.

A notable directorial decision is Foster’s use of cameras, live-streaming Martha Kirby onto a huge screen at the back of the stage. This recontextualises the story within the age of gluttonous media – now, more than ever, celebrities’ lives are under the scrutiny of adoring fans (and vitriolic trolls) 24/7. Those astute enough use this to their advantage. Eva (excellently played by Kirby) milks the camera, playing every coy smile and arched eyebrow for maximum effect. The extreme close ups cleverly humanise her while also alluding at her manipulative side.

There will be comparisons made to the works of Ivo Van Hove or Jamie Lloyd, but this production is undeniably in Curve’s house style. In Curve’s first five years, there was an uneasiness about the productions on its main stage. But under Foster’s helm, they’ve gained a confidence and style which does justice to each show’s source material as well as maintaining a clear identity which makes for an unmissable night out. Honed in earlier productions like Sunset Boulevard, West Side Story and Billy Elliot, Foster takes a similar approach to Evita. Michael Taylor’s design strips the stage to its bones and embraces its vastness. Rigs and wings are fully visible, showcasing the technical and architectural prowess of the theatre – and the theatre of politics. Adam Fisher’s sound design is crystal clear – all the more important for sung-through musicals – every lyric is audible and balanced beautifully with the orchestrations. I was also impressed with Edd Lindley’s costumes for Eva; from stylish power suits to a sumptuous velvet ball gown, it’s easy to see why Eva would appeal to the masses.

Having not seen Evita before, I was impressed with Lloyd Webber and Rice’s music and lyrics, even if they may only skim the surface of a politically and socially divisive figure. Hearing classics such as ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’, ‘High Flying, Adored’ and ‘Buenos Aires’ sung live is an indisputable treat. I would like to see a more traditional production with which to compare Foster’s vision. However, this is a thoroughly enjoyable piece. Curve’s aesthetic ought to make a striking and memorable addition to the musical’s history.

Evita plays at Curve, Leicester until 13th January, 2024. For more information, please visit

Also, do check out the Christmas tree in Curve’s foyer made of props from previous productions. We spotted suitcases from Finding Home, lights from Beautiful, boxing gloves from Billy Elliot, hats from A Chorus Line and washing up powder from My Beautiful Laundrette. How many can you spot?

Martha Kirby (Eva Perón) - Credit: Marc Brenner

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