Part One - Madalena Alberto (Eva Peron)
Heading to the Wolverhampton Grand as part of its latest UK tour, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Evita is one of musical theatres most prolific and enduring success stories. In anticipation and celebration of the shows arrival in the Midlands, we headed to the Empire Theatre in Liverpool to interview it's two leads.
In this first part, Kyle recounts his experience getting to meet and chat to Madalena Alberto, who is taking on the challenge of portraying one of the industries most acclaimed and coveted roles...
By Kyle Pedley.
Interview Conducted Thursday 27th June 2013.
|Madalena Alberto as Eva Peron|
in Evita, alongside co-star
Marti Pellow as 'Che'
Yet despite the rain and gloom, none of it seems to be phasing Madalena Alberto, who arrives with an effortless warmth and radiance, casually dressed yet undeniably comely, and who despite growing up in the sunnier climes of Lisbon, is quick to sing the praises of her new home-from-home.
“London and England have been wonderful to me... it’s definitely where I spend most of my time, and it’s definitely where I want to work!” She explains with an irrepressible smile and an ease and earnestness to her words that do not feel remotely staged or rehearsed.
“I’ve done a couple of tours before but there’s new cities that I’ve never been to so it’s really cool!”
Her enthusiasm for the UK is understandable, given that it was an unexpected encounter with a group of British thesps that begun her on her own journey into becoming an actress and opened up a whole new world of experiences that had not been available to her back at home.
“When I was growing up I didn’t have many musicals around me in Portugal, so everything is quite new to me here. And I think it’s good in a way because when I go to an audition or when I approach a role I’m kind of doing it from a blank canvass, I haven’t really seen what people have done with it before.”
“I always wanted to be an actress but I lacked conviction, I didn’t have much confidence at all, I was very shy, but what happened to me was that I was in a dance school as a hobby and there was a performing arts college from London who came over to do a little workshop. They kept an eye on me throughout the whole week and at the end they said ‘You’re coming with us’ and they gave me a scholarship!
“I didn’t even think that would ever be possible and that’s how it all started! I didn’t know I could even sing, I mean I used to sing for fun with my friends but I only had singing lessons when I moved here.”
It’s a wonderful story, and a knowing mix of gratitude and bemusement can be heard as Madalena recounts it, acknowledging that hers is a story and experience definitely removed from the norm. That said, she is very clearly an advocate for discipline and honing your craft:
|Madalena Alberto at the |
Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Having moved over to the UK over a decade ago to pursue her dreams and ambitions, and now taking the titular role in ‘Evita’, the parallels between her own journey and that of the shows protagonist, Argentinian First Lady Eva Peron, are not lost on Madalena:
“I moved countries very early and wanted to be an actress and that’s exactly what she wanted, so I identify with her a little bit!”
However, we go on to discuss how the role itself clearly presents a challenge to an actress with its inherent ambiguity. Despite being a highly prolific historical figure, Eva Peron remains to this day a somewhat divisive figure, with at times wildly differing takes on who she was, how she rose to her ascent in power, and whether or not she abused her position of influence once she got there. Rice and Lloyd-Webber’s Evita offers a somewhat cynical and particular take on the character, and Alberto discussed the challenges in fleshing out a performance and character from all the differing pespectives on her:
“It’s what made it so interesting, to try and work on a character that you really don’t know who she is. The more I looked into the history, the more I saw how much she was, and still is, loved by the people... there are millions who still have pictures of her next to the Pope in their houses, so no matter how much negative thoughts other people have towards her, I wanted to show within what’s written why the people loved her.”
“She was the wife of a dictator in South America, so I’m sure they did a lot of things they shouldn’t have done and I’m sure they weren’t saints, but I also think Eva strongly believed she wanted to help the people, and the people that I’ve heard speaking about her who did meet her absolutely loved her, said said she was the most generous person on Earth and that she was very kind.”
Nonetheless, she is quick to re-iterate her fidelity to the interpretation of the character that the show offers:
“Obviously you can’t change the script, and as an actor you should never even attempt to do that, you just need to portray whatever’s written, but within what’s written it was really good fun to try and find out little moments where I could show her being more human and just a more normal person.”
It’s a tall order for the actress, given how the show encompasses an almost 20-year timespan, jumping through the years and seeing almost at dizzying pace Peron’s remarkable ascent from nobody to celebrity to First Lady, and gradually her deterioration and succumbing to cancer at the young age of just 33. On the subject of the remarkable journey and indeed physical transformation she is required to go through every night, Madalena acknowledges the challenge:
“I’m not gonna lie it’s very draining and unfortunately I haven’t found an easy way to do it, so every night I just have to commit to it. But I find the more I commit, then the more I can release, and the more I can feel really happy for doing it.”
|Our exclusive video interview with Madalena and|
co-star Marti Pellow will be coming soon!
“It’s the last song of them all, called ‘Lament’. I feel like after going through that journey the Lament is kind of the place where I can exorcise the daemons and when I can thank the writers, [Lord] Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice, and the audience and just be able to really exorcise what happens because it is very intense.”
In terms of her own personal release and downtime, Madelena’s love and passion for singing and music carries on into her hobbies, having released a number of solo tracks and even a short EP entitled Heart Condition on iTunes and her own website:
“I was doing this job for a year and a half and I had a lot of time on my hands so I bought a guitar off the internet and started writing songs!”
“It’s just something that happened, I love writing and when I’m not doing theatre work I love that I can go to a little bar in Camden and just play a few songs. I love it. It’s a very different approach to what I usually do although because I do so much theatre the writing does end up being quite theatrical... storytelling... indie... and folky, because of where I come from.”
And when asked if she imagined it becoming a part of her career in the same way theatre has, Madalena remains modestly uncertain:
“I don’t know, who knows, I like that it’s out there and that people can have a listen and see another side to me so you know, for now that’s good enough.”
Having gotten the chance to watch Madalena’s genuinely remarkable performance in the current tour of Evita after conducting our interview, as well as listening to a selection of her own music, it isn’t difficult to imagine that this latest, highly prolific role is going to be just the latest stage in what will no doubt be a long, illustrious career for the modest, welcoming yet supremely talented Portugese actress.
Evita is running at various venues throughout the country over the course of 2013 and we interviewed Madalena to promote the shows run at the Wolverhampton Grand where it will be performing from Monday 19th - Sat 31st August 2013.
NEXT TIME: Kyle discusses Evita and more with music star, lead singer of Wet, Wet, Wet and the show's 'Che', Marti Pellow...
EVITA will be running at the WOLVERHAMPTON GRAND THEATRE from Mon 19 through to Sat 31 August 2013.
For tickets call the Box Office on 01902 42 92 12.
For more information on the show's run at the Grand and to book directly, click HERE.