EVITA! | On a Grand Scale
EVITA, the rock musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, will open at the Civic Theatre Newcastle on Wednesday 9th March for five performances only. When it opened in the mid- 1970s, EVITA eclipsed box office sales of Jesus Christ Superstar and took out multiple awards.
Following their recent record breaking sell-out production of Jesus Christ Superstar, The National Theatre Company is pulling out all stops with a cast of seventy-five actors, 25 children and a large orchestra comprising 30 professional musicians under the baton of Greg Paterson. National College of Dance graduate Katherine Foote makes her choreography debut with EVITA while backstage, more than 30 technicians will work on sound, lighting, props, set changes, makeup, costuming and projections.
Local actress and singer/songwriter Amy Vee plays Eva Duarte de Peron (EVITA). She will wear five different wigs and execute 20 period costume changes throughout the course of the show. The wigs are being hand knotted by leading theatrical wig company 3am Wigs (Sydney). A Special Effects make-up company is reproducing an exact likeness of Vee, who stands alongside her own open casket in the opening scenes of the show.
Award-winning costume designer Bev Fewins and protege Kaswin Hunt have been working on costuming for the large cast since roles were announced following auditions in May last year. Over forty-five actresses auditioned for the title role alone!
The show follows the life and historical rise of Eva Duarte from her impoverished childhood and decisive move to Buenos Aires, Argentina. By her early 20's Eva had clawed and slept her way to the top using her radio and film profile to seduce General Juan Peron (played by Brian Wark) who would soon become the President of Argentina. The rock musical is narrated in song by Che Guevara (Dez Robertson). By her early 30's, Eva succumbed to cancer. Her body was displayed publicly in an open casket and viewed by hundreds of thousands of mourners. Hundreds were injured in the surging crowds and the floral tributes lining the streets were estimated to be in the hundreds of tonnes.
Chris Maxfield, CEO and Artistic Director, leads the production team for this massive production. It is his third encounter with the show having performed the role of Che and later directed the professional production featuring Normie Rowe and Gina Mansley in Sydney during the mid-1990s. Shortly after that, the rights to the show were withdrawn, precluding any staging in Australia for 19 years. With its re-release for Australian audiences in 2015, Maxfield was quick to secure the rights for The National Theatre Company. Although the show was staged once in Newcastle many years ago, it hasn't ever been seen on a similar scale.
The 2006 Broadway and West End revivals saw a complete overhaul of the orchestrations and the addition of, "You must love me", a new composition by Lloyd Webber performed by Madonna (EVITA) in the movie version. Musical Director Greg Paterson has assembled an impressive group of musicians to tackle the challenging score. Many of these musicians will double back in May for the premiere of the newly formed 'The National Theatre Orchestra' in their ENCORE! Concert series.
For EVITA, Maxfield has restored many of the original staging and artistic elements in his direction of the show. "Direction of the recent revivals overlooked significant elements in the narrative. Musically, it was great, but it left those seeing the show for the first time devoid of understanding as to why half the country hated EVITA while the other half loved her," he said.
To ensure the visual impact of the crowd scenes, Maxfield has assembled what is understood to be the largest cast in any staging of EVITA.
The only matinee for the production has already sold out and ticket sales for the remaining four performances are selling fast. Due to the complexity in staging EVITA, it may be another 20 years before another company takes on the challenge. This is one theatrical event not to be missed. For tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
WIN WIN WIN! Thanks to The National Theatre Company we have 2 Family passes to Give away to 2 Lucky Readers! Simply visit the Giveaways page at www.intouchmagazine.com.au, answer a simple question and you could be sitting in the audience on Opening Night – Wednesday 9th March. Good Luck!