‘Evita’ will live again in Park City
Amber Hansen is the director of operations for the Egyptian Theatre.
For the past two months, she has donned another director hat as she worked to get Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical "Evita" to the Egyptian’s stage.
The production, which is about the late Eva Peron, who was the celebrated and maligned first lady of Argentina in the 1940s, will open Friday, July 5, and run Thursdays through Sundays until July 28.
Hansen promises this version to be different than the other productions that have been performed since its debut at London’s West End in 1978.
"I’ve never seen ‘Evita’ live, so this one is going to be unlike any version of the production that has been seen," Hansen told The Park Record. "It’s just my interpretation of it."
Hansen fell in love with the story and the music back in 2006, when she auditioned for the Broadway revival.
She received a callback, and got so excited that she did a lot of homework about the show and the actual story about Peron’s early life, rise to power and death after battling cancer in 1952.
"The tale is so captivating and intriguing," Hansen said. "It’s full of everything — romance, controversy, intrigue and drama."
Of course, there’s the music by Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, the same duo who wrote "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."
"I think it’s one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best, if not the best, he’s ever done," she said.
Hansen, who didn’t land a role in the revival, said performing in the musical was on her bucket list until a few years ago.
"I’m not really focusing on acting right now, so I felt passionate about directing the musical," she said.
To make sure the production meets standards worthy of the music and story, Hansen selected actors and actresses who have strong musical-theater background.
"The cast members are stellar and they all have done musicals for so many years and are good at interpreting musical-theater characters," she said.
That makes it easy for Hansen to keep the scenes true to Peron’s history.
"I found I am using basic storytelling to drive the message home," she said. "My focus, which is the telling of the story through characters with integrity, is all set before me."
In addition to the cast, Hansen is working with a great production crew.
"The choreographer, Rebecca Joy Raboy, not only has a background in musical theater, but she also performs Latin dance," Hansen said. "We have amazing dances and amazing scenes, and Rebecca makes the show look like a musical."
Then there’s musical director Anne Puzey.
"Anne is one of the best in the business," Hansen praised. "It’s been a joy working with (her)."
The sets for "Evita" are unique to this production, Hansen said.
"We do have some movable pieces that were designed by Justin Jenkins, but we are doing something different this time," she said. "Instead of large sets that have to be moved on and off stage, which always is difficult because we don’t have a backstage area, we are going to be using projections to set the tone."
Hansen and the Egyptian Theatre’s video producer, John Grippe, have edited stock footage of Eva Peron and some of the events that happened in Buenos Aires during the 1940s.
Finding the right scenes in the footage is a chore, because there is so much history that is covered in the musical.
"There are several times when the script needs to be aligned with the action on the screen," Hansen said. "So we have to make sure it fits within the context and the numbers that are being performed."
Still, Hansen said she is lucky to have the opportunity to work with such talent.
"It’s been helpful to have the opportunity to have a cast and crew who are dedicated to making this production the best it can be," she said. "I feel we’ve honed into the show and perfected it."
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical "Evita," which will open on Friday, July 5, at 8 p.m. The production will run Thursdays through Sundays until July 28. Thursday through Saturday performances will begin at 8 p.m. Sunday’s performances will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $39 through $54 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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