Broadway musical "Evita" set to take stage at CSUB

May 2, 2008
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720,

A musical that has racked up over 1,500 performances on Broadway is coming to California State University, Bakersfield. Theatrefest presents "Evita," the story based on Eva Duarte de Peron, Argentina's controversial first lady, beginning May 15 at 8 p.m. in the Doré Theatre.

The production will run May 15 - 17 and May 23 - 24 at 8 p.m. with a matinee performance on Sunday, May 25 at 2 p.m.

The stage version of "Evita" made its American debut on Broadway in 1979 and starred Patti Lupone in the title role and Mandy Patinkin as Che Guevara. Directed by Harold Prince with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and lyrics by Tim Rice, "Evita" ran for a total of 1,567 performances.

The story is told entirely through song and dance. It follows Eva's life throughout her poor girlhood, through her various careers of modeling and acting and finally to her marriage to General Juan Peron. It tells of her humble beginnings and illustrates her rise to power in her short life. She died of cancer at the age of 33.

It is only when Juan Peron decides to run for president of Argentina and wins, that Eva becomes the first lady of Argentina. Eva was known both for her unending dedication to the plight of the lower classes as well as her extravagant lifestyle. She was hated by the rich and the military and was an ardent supporter of women's rights. Near the time of her death the Argentine Congress named her the "Spiritual Leader of The Nation."

Some of the most commonly known songs from the show include, "Santa Evita," "High Flying Adored" and "Don't Cry for Me Argentina."

The CSUB cast features Jessica Trevino as Evita and Danvir Grewal as Guevara. Grewal was drawn to his character because, "Che Guevara has always been an idol of mine. When Mandy Rees told me that he appeared in the play, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to audition," Grewal said.

Grewal hopes the performance will make the audience seek out other plays and musicals in the city.

Rees, CSUB theatre professor and department chair, is directing the production. Rees believes the musical is "a fascinating story of a very complex person." It was actually chosen because of its difficulty, she said.

"'Evita' will challenge our students and build their singing and dancing skills," Rees said. The CSUB performance will include a full orchestra.

Though many people might have seen the 1996 movie version starring Madonna, Rees wants people to know that the play is different. "The stage version is much more exciting and effective than the film," she said.

The undertaking of such a musical is very challenging with 23 scenes.

"The cast is only a part of the whole production; even the cast doesn't understand the hours and hours of work being done behind the scenes. We have designers, choreographers, musicians, a conductor, and a scene shop working at full speed. It's a tremendous undertaking," Rees detailed.

The CSUB production involves some 20 students including Trevino, Grewal, Michael Mejia, Francisico Aragon, Chris Baden, Alessandra Banducci, Jessica Boles, Maria del Rosario Diez de Medina, John Paul Horn, Steve Kinnison, Missy Lonsinger, Diana Melgar, Gabriel Ramirez, Marco Rodriguez, David Sandoval, Cassie Schiemdel, Amanda Verdugo and Alyssa Wiley.

General admission is $12; $5 for students with ID, $10 for seniors, CSUB faculty and staff. For ticket information, please call the box office at (661) 654-3150.