Actor ’Overwhelmed’ by ’Evita’

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Sep 10, 2013

The national tour of the recent Broadway production of "Evita" runs through Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) in Providence.

The production, directed by Tony and Olivier Award-winner Michael Grandage and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Rob Ashford, was nominated for a Best Musical Revival Tony Award last season. It also marked the first time a re-imagined production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Webb musical came to Broadway. (A previous revival recreated the original staging by Harold Prince from its four-year run in the 1980s.)

"Evita" began life in the 1970s when Webber and Rice became fascinated with the career of Eva Perón, the Argentine woman who used her beauty and charisma to rise from poverty to the presidential mansion as the First Lady to general-turned-dictator Juan Perón. She won international acclaim and adoration from her own people as a champion of the poor, while glamour, power and greed made her the world's first major political celebrity.

Webber and Rice first created a rock opera concept album (similar to their "Jesus Christ Superstar") in 1976. Two years later, under Prince's direction, it opened in London's West End where it won the Olivier Award for Best Musical and ran for nearly eight years. Broadway followed in 1979 with Patti Lupone in her break-out role as Eva. Lupone, the musical, and Mandy Patinkin (who played Che Guevera) won Tony Awards (as did Prince for his staging).

Much of the musical's appeal came with its tango-tinged, melodious score, which included the hits "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and "Another Suitcase in Another Hall." For this revival, the Oscar-winning song "You Must Love Me" (written for the Madonna-helmed 1996 film version), is included in the score.

The national tour of "Evita" will star Caroline Bowman ("Kinky Boots") as Eva Perón, Tony nominated Josh Young ("Jesus Christ Superstar") as Che Guevera, and Sean MacLaughlin ("Woman in White") as Juan Perón. The cast also features Desi Oakley as the alternate for Eva, Christopher Johnstone as Magaldi and Krystina Alabado as the Mistress.

EDGE spoke to MacLaughlin about his fascination with the character of Perón, in part because of his own upbringing.

"I grew up in a military family," MacLaughlin said. "I grew up learning about the aspects of World War II."

MacLaughlin was raised on a military base in Ft. Lee, Virginia. He began doing community theatre at a very young age. MacLaughlin later performed in regional theatres in Washington, DC for a few years before moving to New York City in 2004.

One of MacLaughlin’s favorite roles was his stint as Raoul in "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway.

MacLaughlin welcomed the opportunity to be a part of "Evita."

"I’ve always been a fan of this role and this show," MacLaughlin noted. "I’m a huge Andrew Lloyd Webber fan and this is probably one of his most complex scores."

MacLaughlin also finds the relationship between Evita and Juan to be one of co-dependence.

"(Evita) helped push (Juan) toward success that he wanted, which she also wanted. The two of them together made a wonderful business couple," MacLaughlin said.

Being part of the production has been a joy for the actor.

"It’s overwhelming in a wonderful way," MacLaughlin said. "I get to sit and watch the rehearsals and I’m just flabbergasted seeing the amount of talent on that stage. Our Evita, Caroline Bowman, is a force to be reckoned with. She is everything you imagine Eva to be and more."

Tickets for "Evita" are $80 - $43; all ticket prices include a $3 per ticket restoration charge and are subject to change without notice. Tickets are available online at www.ppacri.org, by phone at (401) 421-ARTS (2787), and at the PPAC Box Office, located at 220 Weybosset Street in downtown Providence.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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