REVIEW: Evita, Sunderland Empire, until Saturday, June 21

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I didn’t cry for Argentina, but Evita is certainly a moving piece of theatre.

Even the most stoic of audience members couldn’t fail to be touched by this tale of the feistiest of first ladies who rose from a childhood spent in rural Argentina to become the spiritual leader of the country.

The lynchpin of this classic Rice/Webber musical is, of course, the eponymous heroine. Madalena Alberto is resplendent in the role, deftly portraying Eva’s transformation from anonymous ambitious actress to the colourful wife of controversial Argentine president Juan Perón.

The passion which led to the Argentine people falling in love with the true twentieth century icon was palpable in Alberto’s portrayal, which soared in the musical’s greatest of numbers, Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.

Shimmering in a white gown, she addresses her people in Eva’s famous commanding pose. It’s a stunning performance which makes her encroaching illness all the more tragic to watch.

Meanwhile, a set drenched in rich burnt orange lighting helps to transport you to the fiery streets of Buenos Aires during a fraught and pivotal time in the nation’s history.

Particularly poignant was Another Suitcase in Another Hall which was performed by Sarah McNicholas who is surely destined for a leading lady role.

Steering the piece in the narrator role of Che is Marti Pellow who brings his soft, yet masterful, lilt to the role of the man who’s become a symbol of counter culture.

But that which makes this musical great is also, at times, its downfall.

Like Cats, the dialogue is entirely sung, often making the narrative of the story difficult to follow in the lesser-known songs.