On this day in 1978 (44 years ago), the incomparable Evita opened in London’s West End – and has become beloved around the world ever since. Coming in at number six in a BBC Radio 2 listener poll of the UK’s “Number One Essential Musicals”, this legendary show continues to leave its mark on the world. To celebrate, let’s take a look at the show’s beginnings, successes and relive the magic of its music.
Evita began life as a recording of the now infamous ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’, which was released in 1976. This was followed by the complete rock opera concept album, which was certified gold, creating the building blocks for the show’s debut in 1978.
The original production featured Elaine Paige as Eva and David Essex as Che, debuting at the Prince Edward Theatre on 21st June 1978.
Since then, the title role has been performed by Marti Webb, Stephanie Lawrence, Siobhan McCarthy, Jacquery Chappell and Kathryn Evans.
Evita is considered to be one of the most celebrated of Andrew’s musicals, winning various coveted awards. Following stints in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Evita premiered on Broadway in 1979, winning a whopping 7 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score at the 1980 ceremony.
The show also received an Olivier Award for Best New Musical, and for Best Performance in a Musical for Elaine Paige, and a Grammy Award for the cast recording in 1981.
In 1996, Evita graced the silver screen and starred Madonna, Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Pryce. The film received 5 Academy Award nominations, eventually winning one for Best Original Song for ‘You Must Love Me’ from the film. Madonna also won a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
Productions of Evita have been performed all over the world, including performances in Spain, Austria, South Africa and Mexico. Since its debut, the musical has been revived in London (2006), on Broadway (2012), in the form of a UK tour (2013), and back to London’s West End (2014).
To celebrate Evita’s 44th birthday, join us in reliving this musical sensation by streaming the soundtrack from the show, which received Drama Desk awards for both Outstanding Music and Lyrics, plus multiple Tony awards including Best Original Score.