REVIEW: Evita, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until October 19.

Not even an impromptu fire false alarm induced 20 minutes on the pavement outside could detract from the brilliance of Evita on its latest visit to the Mayflower.

Every time you see it, you see more, and the latest cast do justice to the extraordinary lyrical brilliance and melodies of Messrs Rice and Lloyd Webber.

In truth, a little more anger and disappointment wouldn’t go amiss in Marti Pellow’s voice as Che at times, particularly during Oh What A Circus.

But his is still a strong performance as chorus and critic to the remarkable rise and fall of Eva Duarte, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Peron – a character who’d barely warrant footnote status over here if Rice and Lloyd Webber hadn’t spotted musical potential where you’d least expect it.

As ever, it’s that Che/Evita relationship which is the heart of the show, Che offering the realism to counter Evita’s glamour – and in Pellow and Madalena Alberto we have a fine pairing, Alberto growing ever stronger in presence as the second-rate actress rises to the top and creates her own legend.

Mark Heenehan, as ever, is excellent as Peron himself, the perfect foil for Alberto as she wrings every emotion from Evita’s fatal illness.

But, just as it should, it’s the musical itself which shines. Another Suitcase In Another Hall is surely the most beautiful song in a musical anywhere, any time; and Waltz For Eva and Che, with its contrasting views of the same events, is lyrical genius.

In between times, we have the power of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, the fast-rising thrill of High Flying Adored and the pure pathos of You Must Love Me.

Just perfect – even if we were forced to contemplate This Night Of A Thousand Stars from the pavement for a while!

Phil Hewitt