Evita, The Lyceum, Sheffield
The wolf-whistles at the start were all for Marti Pellow - Wet Wet Wet frontman turned leading man of the musicals.
But by the time the curtain came down the applause was entirely Madalena Alberto’s, whose stunning singing and captivating acting brought spine-tingling power as well as emotional fragility to the role of Evita on the Lyceum Theatre stage.
This touring production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber / Tim Rice musical is a less sympathetic look at Argentina’s controversial heroine than the film version that starred Madonna.
The direction calls for a more cynical Eva than Madonna portrayed - everything is calculated, everything planned, and Alberto’s first lady has an almost Margaret Thatcheresque air.
Social climber Eva’s journey to the top is more truncated than in the movie too - it’s really not long before the little village girl with big ambitions is transformed from humble Eva Duarte into a bleach-blonde bombshell enchanting her Colonel Peron.
And that gives the lovely number Another Suitcase in Another Hall an odd place in the proceedings - rather than being sung by Eva, to illustrate her vulnerability being pushed from pillar to post in her quest for fame, it is sung (beautifully) by Sarah McNicholas as Col Peron’s nameless ‘Mistress’ - a key song for a very minor character.
But there are many moments Alberto’s vocals make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end - and her heartrending scenes in Act Two as Evita is dying are spellbinding and raw.
Mark Heenehan plays a perfect Peron, and the company and the choreography are outstanding.
n Until Saturday, July 13.