‘Evita’ brings Argentina to Center/Stage

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By Sara Miller

The Evergreen Chorale kicks off its 2011-12 season with “Evita,” a show-stopper that will fill Center/Stage Theater with the sights and sounds of Argentina in the early 20th century. This rock-opera story of the rise and fall of Argentina’s beloved first lady, Eva Peron, reopens on Broadway in 2012, but why fly to New York when you can enjoy the charms and ambitions of “Evita” right here in Evergreen?

“Evita” was written in 1978 by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice. The show became known not only for its historic portrayal of the much-loved and controversial first lady but for its “unparalleled fusion of the 20th-century musical experience,” said The Sunday Times. The show combines classical pieces such as “Requiem for Evita” with rhythmic Latin pieces and rock ballads. And no audience can forget the iconic strains of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” as Evita raises her arms to greet crowds of her countrymen.
The Evergreen Chorale’s production of “Evita” offers up a strong mix of Chorale veterans with fresh voices from throughout the Denver area. Rebecca Donnella, who starred as Hope Caldwell in “Urinetown,” and Helen McCormick, who appeared in “Cripple of Inishman,” has dyed her hair blond for the part and bears a striking resemblance to the Peron of the 1940s. Brian Sides, a longstanding Chorale member, plays Colonel Juan Peron, the rising political star with whom Eva aligns herself politically and personally. Sides most recently appeared as Skye Masterson in “Guys and Dolls” and Billy Bigelow in “Carousel.”
New to Center/Stage is Alejandro Roldan as Che, the show’s narrator and moral conscience. Roldan most recently appeared in “The Full Monty” at the Backstage Theatre in Breckenridge. Che introduces the audience to Eva as a 15-year-old who has moved to Buenos Aires to become an actress and follows her rise to political power, ending with a vice-presidential nomination before her death in 1952.
The show also welcomes a talented group of young performers. In the cast of 25, seven of the actors are under the age of 12. Ten-year-old Mharie Brigham is the youngest, and she is joined by Marilyn Collins, Ryan Fesenmeyer, Ian Miller, Zach Miller, Luke Moritz-Johnson and Eleanor Spatz. Several of the young actors are students at Parmalee Elementary, where the Chorale’s artistic director, Christine Gaudreau, is the music teacher.
Gaudreau’s arrival at the Chorale in 2010 coincided with a renewed charitable focus for the organization. In keeping with this mission, the Chorale has named Conifer’s Mountain Peace Shelter as the nonprofit beneficiary of the “Evita” production. The Chorale will donate 50 cents of each Evita ticket sold to the Mountain Peace Shelter. The shelter helps local families escape destructive circumstances and get back on their feet.
The Chorale is also offering a dinner-and-show package. All patrons with a ticket to “Evita” will get 10 percent off their meal at Rio del Sol Restaurant in downtown Evergreen, either before the evening concerts on Friday and Saturday, or after the matinee on Saturday. Reservations are required.
Whether or not you take advantage of special patron discounts before or after the show, the thing that makes “Evita” truly spectacular is the power of the music and the voices that bring it to life. “It’s going to be a stunning production,” says Laurie Romberg, spokeswoman for the Chorale. “We have some amazing voices in the cast, and you won’t want to miss it”
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 303-674-4002 or visit www.evergreenchorale.org.

Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.