REVIEW: Evita, The Mayflower, Southampton.

Former Chichester College student Abigail Jaye soars as Evita in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s extraordinary musical.

Jaye captures not just the superstar charisma which allowed the humble actress to rise to become Argentina’s first lady; but just as importantly, she nails all the human frailty which makes her fall equally spectacular.

How difficult it must be, with all the weight of expectation, to step forward to sing Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. But Jaye does it with a complete naturalness that makes you look again at a song grown over familiar.

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With Mark Heenehan as her Peron, Jaye shows the deliberate cunning behind their union in I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You. As illness strikes, the couple show the genuine bond which develops between them.

As ever, though, it falls to the Mistress (Sasha Ransley) to sing surely the night’s most beautiful song and one of the most beautiful songs of any musical anywhere - Another Suitcase In Another Hall.

The only downside to this production is that Mark Powell is one of the weaker Ches of recent times. The role demands anger and bitter amusement; Powell is too much simply the nice guy in the crowd.

Phil Hewitt