Don’t Cry For Me Pembrokeshire - and they didn’t as Vision smashed Evita

Caption: That song. That balcony. That dress. Naomi Hicks is Evita. Picture: Vision Arts
Caption: That song. That balcony. That dress. Naomi Hicks is Evita. Picture: Vision Arts

ARGENTINA really did come to town when Vision Theatre Company presented Evita at the Queen’s Hall, in Narberth, recently.

Evita - one of the world’s best loved musicals - is no walk en el parque for any performer, let alone amateurs.

There’s no dialogue - the musical is sung through from start to end and it also includes choreographed dance set-pieces, which, to Vision’s credit and especially choreographer Katie Thomas - were simply spectacular and of a quality seldom seen away from the professional stage.

With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and sublime lyrics by Tim Rice, Evita is a musical rarely tackled by non-professionals, but under the assured direction of Terri Harrison, Vision Theatre Company added yet another triumphant production to its canon.

The eponymous heroine - Eva Peron, Evita, is an unlikely subject for a musical; although the rags to riches story of a girl born on the wrong side of the tracks who manipulates her way to amazing power, is the stuff of fairytales.

She was brought to life in a powerhouse performance by Naomi Hicks, - think Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. And that balcony. And THAT dress.

Yet Naomi still managed to leave the audience unsure as to whether Evita was a saint - or a sinner - thanks to a wonderfully nuanced performance.

Che - the narrator - or possibly even Eva’s conscience - was realised in a storming performance from Dan Bower - his contempt at what he sees as the manipulation of the ordinary people drips from every line he sings.

Ian John played the stiff and upright military man Juan Peron, who is totally groomed by Eva to become president - although his softer side was never too far away in his scenes with his wife.

The slimy Augustin Magaldi came in the shape of Drew Baker, who gave a flawless performance as the tango singer who is the first in a line of men used and discarded by Eva as she makes her way ever upwards.

Leah Bower was wonderful as Peron’s mistress. It’s a small role - and could be almost thrown away - in fact in the film version of the musical Madonna was so taken with the one song the mistress sings that she reworked to story so she could sing it herself.

But Vision stuck to the script and so the audience was treated to an amazing, poignant performance of Another Suitcase in Another Hall.

In fact the mistress’s scene could be taken as a metaphor for the whole production - from Evita and Che, who are on stage for almost the entire production - to the ensemble member with the fewest moves - every single member of the cast contributed to this successful production - it really was a case of the sum of the parts exceeding the whole.

Other cast members were: Dressers: Janine Lewis, Sally Roach, Joy Church, Michaela Walters, Mads Wears; Young Mother: Abigail Harding; Tango Dancers: Katie Hughes, Ross Austin; Officers: Charles Owen, Roger Leese, Shaun Pollard, Paul Childs; Ensemble: Sophie Marriott, Tanya Rendell, Kerry Hudd, Andrea Thomas, Cathy Cannaby, Katie Thomas, Katy Thomas; with musical direction by Sarah Benbow.

Vision Theatre Company’s next outing is Judy - The Judy Garland Musical, performed at Boulevard Showbar, Milford Haven from May 18-21.