TaDa! Events presents iconic musical on the life of Eva Perón
Of all the musicals Terri Andrews has seen over the years, there’s one that has stuck in her head. She first saw it in the late 1970s in L.A., and was struck by the detailed choreography and other visuals, along with the strong female lead role.
© Photo illustration courtesy TaDa! Events
Kelly-Ann Evans as Eva Peron in TaDa! Events production of “Evita.”
— Photo illustration curtesy TadDa! Events
It was “Evita,” the story of Eva Perón’s life, rise to power and death, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
Born in 1919, Perón began her life in the slums of rural Argentina, but went to Buenos Aires as a teenager to pursue a career as an actress. Marrying Col. Juan Perón at the age of 26, she became first lady of Argentina when he was elected president in 1946. She became known for her charity work, her work on behalf of labour rights and women’s suffrage, as well as for founding the Female Peronist Party, the country’s first female political party.
Perón herself ran for vice-president of Argentina in 1951, but withdrew because of opposition from the military and middle-class population, mixed with her state of health. She died of cancer a year later, aged 33.
Rice became intrigued with Perón’s life after hearing a radio show about her, and suggested the idea to Lloyd Webber. “Evita” was first released as a rock opera concept album, leading to productions in London in 1978, and worldwide productions afterwards. A film based on the musical, starring Antonio Banderas and Madonna as Perón, was released in 1996. In 2006, the musical was revived and Lloyd Webber reworked the music, incorporating 11-part harmonies.
Andrews and Sheilagh Guy-Murphy, as TaDa! Events, will present a local production of the musical at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre Feb. 28, March 1 and 2 and again March 5 and 6, with a cast that includes Kelly-Ann Evans as Perón, Justin Nurse, Justin Goulding, Kristin Murphy and Steve Power.
“There are five principle performers, 20 singers and dancers, a tango dance company, a Broadway dance company, a 24-child chorus and a 15-piece orchestra, with seven or eight singers in the pit with the orchestra,” explains Andrews, giving a gist of the magnitude of the show.
“This is the most challenging musical we’ve ever done.”
When it came to the casting, Andrews said she, musical director Bill Brennan, choral director Susan Quinn and choreographer Pamela Pittman went into auditions with an open mind, and without anyone particular in mind for the lead role. They did, however, know what they were looking for: someone who could portray the personal drive that brought Perón from the slums to the top.
“We needed someone who could also portray her fragility near the end, and her vulnerabilities,” Andrews says. “I often say in this business the biggest egos are the ones that are the most vulnerable and the most easily hurt. That, to me, is Eva Perón.”
Andrews sent the individual directors and costume designer Amy Edwards to see touring productions of the musical, in an effort to get them familiar with the energy of the reworked show. Set designer Karl Simmons has come up with a stage that includes a big balcony structure, as well as an area underneath that will function as the recesses of the streets. The play of light through the structure will create the scenes, Andrews says.
With iconic songs like “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and “Another Suitcase in Another Hall,” “Evita” runs at 8 p.m. each night. Tickets are $45 for adults, $33 for students and $22 for children under 12, and are available at the Arts and Culture Centre box office, by calling 729-3900, or online at www.artsandculturecentre.com.