Western Connecticut State University will present the award-winning musical “Evita” in eight public performances from Nov. 10 through 19 at the MainStage Theatre of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury
The WCSU Department of Theatre Arts production, directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts and Coordinator of Musical Theatre Tim Howard, will be presented in evening performances at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10; Saturday, Nov. 11; Friday, Nov. 17; and Saturday, Nov. 18. Saturday matinee performances will be at 2 p.m. on Nov. 11 and 18; Sunday matinees will be at 2 p.m. on Nov. 12 and at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19. Reservations at a general admission fee of $25 may be made at (203) 837-8732 or online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/evita-tickets-36492619407.
“Evita,” with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, opened on London’s West End in 1978 and on Broadway in 1979, with touring companies taking the show around the world during the past four decades and revivals staged in London in 2006 and New York in 2012. The original production captured the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical in 1978 and became the first British show to win the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1979.
The first act of “Evita” chronicles the life of Eva Duarte in Argentina from her teens as an aspiring actress and radio personality to her courtship and marriage with the ambitious military colonel Juan Peron, a rising political star promoted to general and ultimately elected to the presidency in 1946. Opening with the show’s signature song, “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” the second act portrays Eva Peron’s emergence as a charismatic First Lady whose massive charitable programs endear her to the nation’s poor but whose growing power arouses the mistrust of the military. The recurring commentaries of Che, patterned loosely on the real-life Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara, provide a skeptical Greek-chorus background to the play that culminates when Eva succumbs to cancer in 1952 at the age of 33.
Howard, a veteran actor, singer and director with extensive professional credits in Broadway and regional theatre, will direct a cast of 34 WCSU students. Choreography will be designed and directed by Adjunct Professor of Theatre Arts Mary Ann Lamb, whose credits include 12 Broadway shows, with assistance from Anthony Johnson. The 14-piece orchestra will be conducted by guest artist and music director Frank Schiro, who has collaborated on music direction for many professional theatre productions in New York and regionally.
“I wanted to do ‘Evita’ because it’s one of my favorite musicals, hands down,” Howard remarked. “It’s Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best score, it’s rock opera, and beyond that, it’s an exciting piece of theatre not just for the title character but for the entire ensemble. We’re thrilled to be honoring the material, and we’re also thrilled to be working with an amazing design and creative team.”
Howard emphasized that the WCSU production will bring a fresh interpretation to one of the most familiar and popular shows in contemporary musical theatre. “If you think you know ‘Evita,’” he said, “you need to open your mind and come and see what we’re doing, and hopefully you’re going to discover ‘Evita’ in a brand-new way.”
The title role of Evita will be performed by three student actresses cast at the various stages of her life from her teens to her illness and death at 33. The Young Eva Duarte will be performed by Shaylen Harger, of Orange; the Reigning Eva Peron, by Olivia Kurtz, of Andover; and the Dying Eva, by Alexandra Colavecchio, of Cromwell.
Other leading roles will be portrayed by Mark Sumner, of Middletown, in the role of Che; TJ Swetz, of Poughquag, New York, in the role of Juan Peron; and Johnathan Jordan, of Stratford, in the role of Agustin Magaldi. The role of the Mistress has been double cast with performances by Jessica Schwartz, of Brookfield, and Kristen Muller, of Norwalk.
Women in the Ensemble cast will include Sasha Brown, of Middletown (also the Reigning Eva understudy and a Sister); Saige Bryan, of Norwalk (also an Aristocrat); Jillian Caillouette, of Meriden (also the Young Eva understudy); Ashia Collins, of Poughkeepsie, New York; Shea Coughlin, of Sherman (Female Ensemble Swing); Krista Fiederlein, of East Hampton (also the Mother); Emma Giorgio, of Ridgefield (also an Aristocrat); Kayla Hansen, of West Haven (also a Sister); Jaclyn Mercer, of New Milford (also an Aristocrat); Alaina Mueller, of Windsor (also an Aristocrat); Cynthia Rivera, of Bridgeport (also a Sister); Victoria Wall, of Wallingford; and Jennifer Wilson, of West Haven (also the Young Girl Soloist).
Men in the Ensemble cast will include Thomas Bergamo, of Wolcott (also a General); Isiah Bostic, of Hamden (also the Che understudy and an Aristocrat); Nathan Clift, of Trumbull (also an Aristocrat); Luis DeJesus, of East Haven (also the Brother); Tyler Gallaher, of Wappingers Falls, New York (also the Juan Peron understudy, the Admiral and a General); Kenneth Galm, of West Hartford (also a General); Stefan Izydorczak, of Unionville (also a General); Michael Katz, of Monroe (also a General); Nicholas Raines, of New Milford (also a General); Ryan Rappaport, of Orange (also an Aristocrat); Brandon Richardi, of Hanson, Massachusetts (Male Ensemble Swing); Cole Urso, of Wethersfield (also a General); and Brandon Wolfe, of Stamford (also a General).
For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.