EVITA to play Arts Centre Melbourne this Summer

nternational Cast of EVITA - photo by Pat Bromilow-Downing and Christiaan KotzeOpera Australia Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini, Australian theatre producer John Frost and leading UK theatre producer David Ian today announced that their upcoming production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s EVITA will be Melbourne’s Summer Musical in 2018-9.

One of the most celebrated musicals of all time, the original West End and Broadway production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s EVITA, directed by Hal Prince, will play at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne from 5 December following the Sydney Opera House premiere season.

Australian icon, singer, songwriter and musical theatre star Tina Arena will play the role of Eva Perón. Throughout a stellar 40-year music career, musical theatre has been a constant presence for Tina, having starred in productions in Australia and internationally.

Her theatrical work includes Cabaret, Nine, Dynamite and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Now ten years after Tina wowed critics on the West End as Roxie Hart in Chicago, she is back with her most challenging theatrical project to date, Evita.

“To perform EVITA in my home town of Melbourne is an opportunity I could not turn down,” said Tina Arena. “I feel like I am ready for this role now, even though I’m a little terrified. I don’t think I would have been ready for it before because you need to have lived somewhat emotionally to play Eva Perón.”

“I’m so thankful to Andrew Lloyd Webber for thinking I’m right for it, and to Opera Australia and John Frost for asking me. I can’t wait to bring EVITA to Melbourne.”

Starring opposite Tina as Juan Perón will be opera superstar Paulo Szot, whose last Australian performance was the title role in Opera Australia’s Eugene Onegin. Szot played Emile De Beque in the award-winning revival of South Pacific on Broadway, winning the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics’ Circle and Theater World Awards.

Playing the young revolutionary Che will be Kurt Kansley, who trained at Monash University and The Melba Conservatorium. Locally Kurt has performed in The Lion King, Rent, Godspell and Show Boat, directed by Hal Prince, while his numerous credits in the West End include Bernstein’s Mass Concert, Guys and Dolls, Miss Saigon, The Lion King, Ragtime, Sweet Bird of Youth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Acclaimed musical theatre performer Michael Falzon (We Will Rock You, Chess) will play tango singer Magaldi, while the role of Perón’s Mistress will be played by newcomer Alexis van Maanen, making her professional debut. Alexis is a 2017 graduate of Caulfield Grammar School. Currently playing The Wicked Witch of the West in GFO’s The Wizard of Oz following her seven years as Elphaba in Wicked, Jemma Rix will be the Eva Perón Alternate.

Completing the cast will be Justin Anderson, Anton Berezin, Michael Camilleri, Olivia Carniato, Rachel Cole, Alie Coste, Jade Coutts, Kristian Crowe, Todd Dewberry, Rodney Dobson, Samantha Dodemaide, Laura Field, Zoy Frangos, Ashleigh Gurnett, Kate Maree Hoolihan, Georgina Hopson, Thomas Johansson, Kathleen Moore, Thern Reynolds, Christopher Scalzo, David Sirianni, Tod Strike, Simon Tichelaar, Dean Vince, Rachael Ward and Paul Whiteley.

“We are thrilled to bring this renowned production of EVITA to Arts Centre Melbourne. With the sensational Tina Arena leading this wonderfully talented cast in her hometown, this is sure to be the hottest ticket in Melbourne this summer,” said the producers.

“The original West End and Broadway version of this lauded musical was a landmark theatrical event, and we can’t wait to present it with this incredible group of performers. Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice and Hal Prince are legends of musical theatre; it gets no better than this.”

Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s EVITA is iconic, with more than 20 major awards to its credit including the Olivier and Tony Awards for Best Musical, a Golden Globe and an Oscar for the film version starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas.

Featuring some of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best loved songs including Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, On This Night of a Thousand Stars, You Must Love Me and Another Suitcase in Another Hall – EVITA charts the story of Eva Perón, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Perón, from her humble beginnings through to the extraordinary wealth, power and status which ultimately led her to be heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’.

Legendary Broadway director Hal Prince has won 21 Tony Awards, more than any person in history. Hal Prince will be joined by fellow original West End creative team members including choreographer Larry Fuller and designer Timothy O’Brien.

This musical captured the attention of the public when it was first staged in 1978 and in its 40th year and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 70th year, Opera Australia, John Frost and David Ian are thrilled to bring this “modern masterpiece” (New York Post) to Australia in all its original glory.

EVITA plays the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House from 13 September, before playing the State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne from 5 December 2018. For more information, visit: www.evitathemusical.com.au for details.

Image: International Cast of EVITA – photo by Pat Bromilow-Downing and Christiaan Kotze