Opera House, Wellington

07/11/2015 - 21/11/2015

Production Details

The story of the glamorous first lady of Argentina, Eva Perón, featuring some of the greatest musical theatre songs ever, including ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’  

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s masterpiece, EVITA – the story of the glamorous first lady of Argentina, Eva Perón – opens in Wellington this week.

Set in Buenos Aires between 1934-1952, EVITA charts the rags-to-riches rise of the First Lady of Argentina, who won the love of her countrymen after marrying Argentine dictator Juan Peron.

Eva takes us on a journey from fatherless child to ambitious actress to the most powerful woman in Latin America – and, eventually, to a saint-like figure after her death from cancer at age 33. She will be played by award-winning New Zealand actress Heather Wilcock. Heather’s most recent roles include playing Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, Cathy in Auckland Musical Theatre’s production of The Last 5 Years, Hodel in Centrestage’s production of Fiddler on The Roof (NAPTA Nominated), as well as AMT’s production of Spring Awakening as Wendla (NAPTA Nominated).

Heather received her first NAPTA award for best leading female in a musical at the age of 16 for her role as Bobbie in the New Zealand Premier of The Railway Children at Centrestage Theatre and was recently honoured again for her stand out performance in Hairspray. At the age of 16, Heather was offered a place to study musical theatre at the New York Film Academy in Manhattan where she studied under many top Broadway performers.

Produced in Wellington by Amici Productions in association with PLT, the production features lavish costuming and sets designed by top New Zealand freelance director Stephen Robertson. This new and original design concept for EVITA will bring this story to life with a large cast of 46 performers from Wellington and around New Zealand.

The events in Eva’s life are presented in song and editorialised on by the show’s narrator, Che – played by Wellington-born actor Matt Pike whose credits include international tours of Jesus Christ Superstar and Cats, a highlight playing Munkustrap for the 10 year anniversary of Cats in Hamburg. Other credits include Miss Saigon (Engineer in the NZ premier Christchurch and Chris in Wellington); Cabaret (Emcee); Jacque Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris; Starlight Express (Electra); and Blood Brothers (Narrator). 

Juan Peron is played by Chris Crowe – known for bringing to life some of the most demanding roles in musical theatre including Jesus in Godspell, Judas & Pontias Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar, Enjolras in Les Miserables, Anatoly in Chess, and John in Miss Saigon – a role he has had the pleasure of performing in several New Zealand cities. 

More recently Chris has received critical acclaim starring as the title role in The Phantom of the Opera – a role he has cherished and had the pleasure of sharing with audiences in Wellington, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Christchurch. 

Other credits include, La Traviata, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus for the Australian Opera Studio at His Majesty’s Theatre in Perth, and productions of On Broadway, Godspell and Smokey Joe’s Café, for Marshall Stack & Co, a collective of performers & musicians led by sisters Kate & Nic Marshall. 

As a concert soloist, Chris has appeared in Orpheus at the Movies and Anything Goes: An Evening with Cole Porter, both with the Orpheus Choir and members of Orchestra Wellington, The Big Night In at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, & The Magical Music of Disney, a huge multimedia Walt Disney concert at the CBS Arena with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. 

EVITA has music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. Harold Prince staged the original London and New York productions. Elaine Paige earned an Olivier Award for creating the role in London. Patti LuPone, who starred in the 1979 Broadway staging, earned a Tony Award for her work alongside Tony winner Mandy Patinkin as Che. EVITA also earned the 1980 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book and Best Direction. 

Wellington Opera House
7 – 21 November
Tuesday 7.30pm, Wednesday 7.30pm, Thursday 7.30pm, Friday 7.30pm,
Saturday 2.00pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 4.00pm 
Tickets:  Ticketek.co.nz  |  0800 TICKETEK 
Prices:  $30 to $80 

evitanz.com   |   facebook.com/Evita 

Theatre , Musical ,

Exceptionally professional Evita

Review by Ewen Coleman 10th Nov 2015

For 50 years now, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice have been entertaining audiences with an array of musicals, each having songs that have become stand-alone hits like the shows that they originated from.

Evita, currently playing at the Opera House, is no exception and although it is synonymous with one iconic song, ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’, there are several other numbers just as good that rarely get any playing time.

And in this production from Porirua Little Theatre and Amici Productions, director Grant Meese, musical director Kate Marshall and choreographer Leigh Evans have pulled out all the stops to create an exceptionally professional production of Evita. [More


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Experience the power

Review by Jo Hodgson 09th Nov 2015

As I sit waiting for this iconic pop-rock opera to start, I can’t help feeling jitters of excitement. Excitement because this is one of my favourite musicals; jitters because I am empathising with the performers waiting in the wings and curiosity to see how this Amici/PLT (Porirua Little Theatre) production will play out after much hype in the theatre community. 

EVITA is the story of Eva Duarte (Heather Wilcock) and her rise from rags to riches through to her premature death at the age of 33. 

The show opens with the news of her death and the outpouring of grief from ‘her people’ while Che (Matthew Pike) begins the narrative exposition in ‘Oh what a circus.’

Wind back to Eva aged 15 and we follow her story from escaping her lower class upbringing by following musician Agustin Magaldi (a finely sung cameo role by Ben Paterson) to Buenos Aires where she becomes an actress. There she uses her feminine wiles to climb the social ladder before meeting Juan Peron (Chris Crowe) at a benefit concert. She quickly dismisses his mistress (poignantly sung by Katie Evans) and supports Peron in his bid for presidency and her own elevation to ‘first lady of Argentina’.

From the first downbeat I can feel this production is securely in musical director Kate Marshall’s capable hands. She leads a brilliant line up of instrumentalists through the most fabulously written (some of Lloyd Webber’s best) and complex orchestrations; it is so wonderful to hear live strings rather than all synthesized – a luxury that is not often afforded these days in the pit.

The opening ‘Requiem for Evita’ is spine tingling: solid accurate harmony singing from the large ensemble chorus both on and off stage, with mostly excellent balance between parts, singers and band from sound engineer Glen Ruske.

Stephen Robertson’s set design is magnificent.  The towering pillars dominate the set and it’s open to interpretation whether they are standing for the power or threat of the church, military or the brutally judgmental upper class.  Stylistic platformed staircases fluidly transform to become various rooms and locations and the famous balcony, all lit with creative lighting from designer Nik Janiurek.  Roving lights shine heavenly shards on the crowd of mourners or cleverly turn the stark pillars into fabric-like back drops in the palace scenes.  

Dressed in Stephen Robertson’s stylish period costumes, the ensemble is excellent and very strong throughout, executing director Grant Meese’s artistic vision and Leigh Evan’s detailed choreography which has a gritty modern feel mixed with various motifs from Latin dance styles. Only occasionally the uniformity isn’t quite slick enough in the military dances, and that pulls the eye.

The children’s ensemble sings beautifully and brings heart and an authenticity by showing the importance of the family in Argentinian society.

The three main leads of this production are absolutely outstanding.

Heather Wilcock is mesmerising as Eva. She completely embodies this huge role with vocal precision and nuance, giving everything and more to and her character journey: remarkable from such a young performer. She is equally caustic, controlling and devastatingly heart-breaking and I particularly like her more understated delivery of ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’, where it is all to do with the story and the manipulation of the people, not about a diva singing a show-stopping number. Don’t get me wrong – it is still a stunning rendition and the dress is anything but understated!

Equally, Chris Crowe is a commanding Peron. His wonderful vocal strength and clarity makes his Peron a more even match with Eva than in some productions I’ve seen. Their relationship is very clearly portrayed through the seductive tango and the journey through their rise to power, and on to Eva’s touching realisation that ‘You Must Love Me’ towards the end of the show (tissues needed). 

The importance of the storytelling is carried through the show and Matthew Pike’s portrayal of Che – narrator, devil’s advocate, conscience and the voice of the people – keeps this theme in focus with his calm and assured stage presence. His diction with Tim Rice’s clever lyrics is excellent and his voice soars through the many vocal styles required. ‘High Flying Adored’ shows off his lyrical singing and is especially beautiful and heartfelt.

This production, although technically a semi-amateur show, is well up there with any professional shows I have seen. The output and talent on and off the stage is fantastic. If anything, opening night had a slight cautiousness about it, but with that one under the belt, I’m sure the company will now relax into the Latin groove and trust they have a brilliant show that is well worth the night out.  

If you have never experienced the power of a Lloyd Webber/Rice rock musical collaboration – this is the time to do it. 


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