I was invited to the media night last night of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Evita, at The Phoenix Theatre, London, where the show is performing a limited 12 week run until October. Something struck me that I felt compelled to write, not so much about this stunning production, but Eva Perón (also known as Evita), the woman and what she still symbolises today, 65 years after her death at the age of 33.
Rags-to-Riches stories are often now seen as a cliché, over baked and an excuse to gain fame and notoriety from a highly fabricated back story. It doesn’t stop young and old alike, from dreaming of that fairytale coming true for them and if you have a goal and work hard then why not? This is what the legend of Evita coming to Buenos Aires aged 15, to make her name, has based it’s foundations on, the idea that any young person can aspire to be whatever they want to become. Of course Argentina in the 1930’s, is a different setting to present day UK for example, but her message is still an empowering one.
Being a romantic in a modern world where romance is perhaps unfortunately on the decline, has me believing, with a little help from the show I saw last night, that Evita and her husband Juan Perón were in love. Let’s be honest, a man in Juan Perón’s position of power in that era, could have just wanted Evita, a famous actress, as his mistress, but as Emma Hatton sung so convincingly as Evita in a duet with Juan, she was certainly good for him. OK, they were mutually beneficial for each others lives, but this isn’t a bad thing at all, that’s a wonderful attribute in a relationship- to have someone who believes in you and what you can achieve.
Evita was a woman, I know you are probably shouting out loud Yes I know that, obviously! But, this needs to be celebrated that a lady, a ‘celebrity’ was a signal of hope for the people of Argentina, a signal of change, the people’s champion. We of course had Princess Diana thirty years later, who captured the hearts of the people around the world, with her kindness and warmth a strong female figure, but Evita Argentina’s first lady, was a phenomena never seen before. The song Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, from the musical Evita, captures the mood perfectly, on a balcony surrounded by her adoring public, as well as her biggest critics in equal measure, who had doubted her sincerity.
A pivotal figure, I believe Evita is also a feminist one, who still inspires many around the world, not to mention she has a musical about her life by one of the most successful musical theatre writing duo in history! Yes, she was very ambitious, but everyone has drive and that shouldn’t still be seen as a negative today like it was 70 years ago. The world has evolved, but the legend of Eva Perón, a visionary, remains as current as ever.