ROBERT Readman, yes, him again, is introducing his latest theatrical enterprise with Pick Me Up Theatre’s York premiere of Evita.

More precisely, it is the York Youth Premiere of Evita: the version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1978 musical for a cast aged 21 and under.

You will recognise Readman’s principal players from his York Stage Musicals shows and some also from NUEMusic Theatre’s first year.

You will recognise a heap of songs, too, songs that were first heard on a gold-selling double album and were then transposed into a stage musical.

The effect is that the big hits still stand out in a show where the singing never stops, in the tradition of opera. Because of that, the sections between the big numbers can be a little awkward.

This is a clunky structural weakness of an early Lloyd Webber and Rice collaboration, not a criticism of Readman or his typically committed cast, whose principal and ensemble members give everything to a demanding score full of high notes (Madonna had them deepened for the film), declamatory speech-making songs and intense screeches for Argentinean First Lady Eva Peron and an all-seeing Che Guevara.

It must have been even more demanding for Stephanie Bolsher, officially the understudy for Eva, who ended up taking on the role for the first three nights after Robyn Grant lost her voice. Robyn was able to return last night, but Stephanie capitalised on the three chances to impress once more with her singing range, poise and command of the stage, just as she did in York Stage Musicals’ Miss Saigon in February.

Aran MacRae, destined for drama school this autumn, reinforced what a leading talent he is in the role of Che. He could even call on his heavy-rock singing from his days in The Frizz for his stand-out performance of And The Money Kept Rolling In, the best moment for the ensemble and Jed Berry’s choreography too.

John Whitney has gravitas as the formidable Juan Peron, while Joe Douglass is fabulous as tango dancer Augustin Magaldi and Lauren Sheriston maximises her only moment in the spotlight, the Mistress’s Another Suitcase In Another Hall, still Lloyd Webber’s best ever pop tune.

Readman utilises his familiar balcony and steps design to good effect once more and Mike Thompson’s band rises impressively to the demands of such a varied score. Another triumph in another hall for Readman, viva Evita.

Evita, Pick Me Up Theatre, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, today at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or