FIRST ladies have been much in the news of late, yet the contemporary soap opera allure of these sometime powers behind the thrones of male politicians is mere tittle-tattle compared to the dramatic life of Eva Peron.
Lyricist Tim Rice and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber were drawn to such interesting lives, after their biblical successes with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar, with a story much less well known.
Almost 40 years after the pair's final and greatest collaboration, Evita remains both of its time and prophetic in its depiction of one woman's unflinching ambition and her ascent to greatness. The brush-strokes may be broad in Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright's fine touring production, but is full of well-choreographed nuance as it flits through Argentina's volatile mid-20th century history that so shaped Eva before it killed her. As played by a vibrant Madalena Alberto, Eva has a drive to escape her humble roots that's akin to Margaret Thatcher, yet who captures people's hearts in a way that only the likes of Princess Diana has done since.
Making Che Guevara the show's narrator was always a stroke of genius. Like Eva, Che was an iconic pin-up, particularly to Lloyd Webber and Rice's generation, and having real life former pop star Marti Pellow don Che's beret as the conscience of the masses is equally inspired.
While Rice's words can sound very much of their time, the ennui of songs such as Another Suitcase In Another Hall, High Flying Adored and Alberto's show-stopping take on Don't Cry For Me Argentina is in no way diminished in a show that's about glamour, power and how the pursuit of both inevitably corrupts.