Musical 'Evita' kicks off Asian tour in Singapore

By Natasha Howitt

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Forty years after opening in London's West End, the musical "Evita", about Argentina's legendary first lady, Eva Peron, made its Asian debut in Singapore this month.

Directed by Broadway's Harold Prince and produced by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, the show charts the rags-to-riches story of former President Juan Peron's wife, whose death, at the height of her popularity, cemented her status in Argentina.

The story is still relevant today, say cast members and the musical's director.

"There are themes about love, and a woman's determination, and essentially a woman's strength in politics, which I think we are wanting more of in the world," said British actress Emma Kingston, who plays Evita, as she was affectionately known.

In an interview, Prince agreed, saying, "The other thing, of course, is the larger message, because that pertains to all of us. Who are our icons? And are they appropriately our icons? Or are they dictators?"

The musical and its hit songs, such as "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" and "High Flying Adored", was inspired by the image of Evita raising her hands at the microphone addressing huge rallies, with her blonde hair drawn back into a chignon.

The 1996 film based on the musical starred the singer Madonna opposite Antonio Banderas.

"Evita" originally opened in 1978 at London's Prince Edward Theatre, where it ran for eight years.

The current version is to run in Singapore until March 18, before travelling to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tokyo.

(Reporting and writing by Natasha Howitt; Editing by Karishma Singh and Clarence Fernandez)