So, after two years and three months of inactivity, the curtain finally rose at Peterborough’s Broadway theatre last night (30 October). Was it worth the wait? You better believe it.
Evita is a two-hour-plus unstoppable runaway train of musical drama packed with unforgettable songs, sensational music and spectacular dance routines.
It is of course the ultimate rags-to-riches story of Eva Peron, the darling of 1940s Argentina, brought to life thanks to the brilliance of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
And in this instance, brought to Peterborough by impresario Bill Kenwright, who on the evidence of this latest piece of philanthropy can be forgiven being an Evertonian by this Liverpool fan.
Finally someone has delivered, and 27 months of hurt for theatre-lovers is soothed.
The show starts with the untimely death of Eva. A nation mourns the woman exalted to near saintly status.
The tale of her rise to fame is told by Che - Marti Pellow - who takes centre stage - boots with khaki trousers tucked in, khaki jacket with sleeves rolled up and chest pushed out. And the moment he places that iconic Che beret on his head, and sings, any preconceptions about a prettyboy, 90s pop band frontman are thrown out of the window.
This guy can sing alright - for the best part of two hours here - and as in his Wet Wet Wet days has great stage presence. And there are few little mannerisms in his voice, his delivery and his movement which evoke memories of those halcyon days two decade ago.
He struts, prowls, prances, skips, dances around the stage - ghosting in and out of scenes, songs, dances at times.
Menacing, maniacal, comical even. Your eyes are drawn to him.
He still has that star quality.
Yet even his performance is overshadowed by that of the leading lady, the incredible and mesmerising Madalena Alberto.
She shines like the brightest star as the plain brunette actress from nowheresville who journeys to the bright lights and high society of Buenos Aires - and ultimately becomes the beautiful, blonde and elegant uncrowned queen of her country - the face of Argentina.
Her voice in impeccable, faultless in the upbeat numbers early on and unbelievably crystal clear and soft at more tender moments too. And, it seems, totally effortless.
Her defining moment - perhaps the show’s defining moment - comes minutes into Act Two - and is worth the entrance fee alone.
High on a balcony, earrings sparkling like diamonds in the sky, blonde hair pulled back and in a stunning white dress, she pauses momentarily, as if savouring the moment, then delivers Evita’s ”signature” song: Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. You could have heard the proverbial pin drop. She had the audience of 1,000-plus in her hands, just as she had her nation, of course.
A truly memorable, magical moment.
Mark Heenahan is an excellent Peron - his big, booming voice hitting all the right notes - and the ensemble deliver a polished performance equally as deserving of the standing ovation which followed the closing scene.
Their song and dance routines were stylish, energetic, slick and lavish - credit too to choreographer Bill Deamer, showing why he is one of the best in the business in making it all happen on the tight Broadway stage.
Musical director Matthew Loughran deserves mention, too, who with his magnificent orchestra did Lloyd Webber’s incredible score justice.
Evita runs until November 9. For tickets contact 01733 822225 or visit www.kenwright.com or the theatre box office.