Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber had planned a show about P.G. Wodehouse's fictional butler Jeeves as their next project after Jesus Christ Superstar, but when Tim caught the last few minutes of a radio programme about Eva "Evita" Peron (1919-1952), the legendary wife of Argentina dictator Juan Peron, he knew Evita had to be their next subject.
As with Jesus Christ Superstar, the pair first released a concept album of the sung-through musical in 1976. Evita's anthem "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" (sung by Julie Covington) became a number one hit. Evita opened in the West End on 21 June 1978 starring pop singer David Essex in the "narrator" role of Che and Elaine Paige in the title role. Almost overnight Elaine became a star and the show was a sold-out sensation. It's later Broadway reception, with Patti Lupone playing Eva Peron and Mandy Patinkin as Che, was also stellar and the show garnered seven Tony Awards. After nearly twenty years of planning and negotiations, a film of the musical finally graced the silver screen with Antonio Banderas as Che and blond ambition supplied by Madonna as Eva Peron.
Evita begins with Eva Peron's death from cancer, and then through flash-back chronicles her entire life, ending again with her death. In addition to Evita and Che, other characters in Evita include Juan Peron, tango singer Augustin Magaldi (who is talked into taking the young Eva from her rural home to the big city of Buenos Aires), and the cameo role of Peron's Mistress who sings the sentimental ballad "Another Suitcase In Another Hall."