One of the most popular musicals of all time, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Time Rice’s Evita is returning to Newcastle Theatre Royal later this month from May 22-26.
An epic tale of love and ambition in 1950s Buenos Aires, Evita tells the story of Eva Perón, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Perón.
The show follows Eva’s meteoric rise from ordinary country girl to presidential First Lady at a time of extraordinary political unrest, and ultimately her being heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’ by the Argentine people.
The show is back on tour to celebrate 10 years in the UK, as well as two hit West End seasons, and follows a sell-out visit to Newcastle back in 2014.
It has more than 20 major awards to its credit, an Oscar winning film version starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas, and features some of the best loved songs in musical theatre, including Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, On This Night of a Thousand Stars, You Must Love Me and Another Suitcase in Another Hall.
Stepping back into the leading lady role is Madalena Alberto.
Q: You first played Evita in 2013. What drew you back to the show?
A: I’d missed it. There aren’t many parts like this for women in musical theatre, so I couldn’t say no. Evita is such a coveted role and such a big challenge.
Q: What makes it such a special role?
A: She’s a very complex character. There are so many accounts of her life and how she might have been, but there’s no one who can pinpoint exactly who she was. You have people who worship her, even nowadays, and people who hate her. Her story’s so compelling. It’s like Cinderella gone wrong. She was from a poor family living on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. She loved the glamour of Hollywood movies and all she wanted was to be an actress. So she went to the big city to pursue her dream and ended up marrying someone very important in the military who became the president of Argentina. She was the first woman to have any power in politics. Then came her very quick and public demise.
Q: The role has been played by many fantastic performers. Were you ever concerned about following them?
A: I’m from Portugal and we don’t have a big musical theatre tradition, so I didn’t feel that pressure. When I realised the people who have played it, I did watch a few YouTube videos. I had to stop myself because the women were so incredible. But I can only be myself. I can only bring what I have.
so my interpretation is going to be different. I’ve been very lucky that the reception has been very warm and positive towards my performance.
Q: What do you think makes Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s music so timeless?
A: They created something that hadn’t been done before. The music is beautiful. It’s written in such a precise way that the melody matches how you would speak it in real life. It makes it so easy to convey the story.
Q: Have you found anything different, returning to the show after a three-year break?
A: It feels very different this time around. It feels like a completely new discovery and I’m having such a wonderful time on stage. Recently there’s been so much in the media about women’s power and women speaking up that I’m looking at Evita in a different way. Before I was a bit embarrassed about how forthcoming she was. Now I’m not. I’m less apologetic, I think, which I should never have been in the first place.
Q: Is there anywhere you’re particularly looking forward to visiting on tour?
A: We’re doing some lovely smaller venues and also some fantastic bigger cities like Glasgow and Newcastle, but I think the highlight might have to be Turin. There we’re going to have a 76-piece orchestra. It’s never been done before. It will be epic. I’m also really looking forward to Chester because I hear the theatre we’re going to is small but beautiful.
Q: What is so special about seeing live theatre?
A: People come to escape and to be inspired. We tap into that more spiritual aspect of what it is to be human and to empathise with people. Evita follows an epic journey, looking at the life of a wonderfully charismatic woman. It will be a time for audiences to relax and enjoy the beautiful music and a very well told story that ends quite tragically but is full of compassion and empathy.
•We have a pair of tickets to give away for Evita on opening night, May 22.
Joining Madalena in the production will be leading Italian performer Gian Marco Schiaretti who will continue in the role of Che after he played the role in the West End. Linked to Eva by destiny, Che brings balance to the story of Eva’s rise to fame.
Meanwhile, leading London and Broadway performer Jeremy Secomb plays Juan Perón, with Oscar Balmaseda as Magaldi and Cristina Hoey as Mistress.
To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to Evita, answer this question: which singer played Evita in the Oscar-winning film version?
B) Diana Ross
C) Paula Abdul
Email your answer, name and contact details to Katy.Wheeler@jpress.co.uk by noon on Friday, May 18.
The tickets are for the 7.30pm performance on Tuesday and there is no cash alternative.