Audiences at the Curve Theatre in Leicester were blown away after last Saturday’s performance of Evita when a last-minute cast replacement took place. Nikolai Foster‘s revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic closes this Saturday, 13th January, after a 7-week run.
After star Martha Kirby, as well as Evita understudy Chumisa Dornford-May, both fell ill, Jessica Daley received a call from Foster, the artistic director at Curve, asking her whether she would step in to sing the lead role in that evening’s performance. Daley, who had played Eva previously in the international tour, said she received Foster’s call just before 12 p.m. and was in the car driving 150 miles from her mum’s home in Middlesbrough to Leicester at 1 p.m. that day. Just three hours later, Daley stepped on stage to lead the company of Evita in Saturday evening’s show, which ended with a standing ovation.
Daley described the experience in an interview with BBC: “It was just the most magical experience ever and I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like it, and to feel the support from the audience from the get-go. They were really with us throughout the show and you could really feel it.”
Curve’s Chief Executive, Chris Stafford, said: “Watching Jess was absolutely sublime. […] She was a superstar. She wasn’t just standing at the side singing it, which would be more than enough. She acted it, she was interacting, she was on stage performing the role of Eva. […] I felt really proud of Jess and also the phenomenal Evita company who really wrapped around her and made sure she was really safe and secure in our stage.”
Daley also received high praise from the original Evita lyricist himself, Tim Rice, who said he intended to thank her and the production personally.