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Oconomowoc community theater group poised to stage 'Evita' this month

 

 


   
By TOM JOZWIK - Special to TimeOut

July 10, 2014

   
       

OCONOMOWOC - Patrons of the community theater group Theatre on Main in Oconomowoc, will be transported to Argentina during the next three weeks as “Evita,” the musical story of Argentine first lady Eva Peron, is staged.

“It is going to be an outstanding show,” TOM managing director Kimm Mann predicted in a media release. Added general manager Sandy Manfrin in a telephone interview, “There’s some great choreography. The dancing will be good (and) the singing will be good” in a production that will be “definitely fine for teenagers,” as well as their elders, to take in. “Evita” starts Friday.

The late-1970s play features music (highlighted by “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”) by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. “Webber has always been a crowd favorite, with ‘Evita’ being one of his best,” Mann noted.

“Evita” is being directed by Oconomowoc native son Zach Woods. TOM followers may well recognize the director’s name, since Woods starred in another Webber-Rice collaboration, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” last year. Woods, having graduated from Oconomowoc High School, obtained a degree in musical theater from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

First staged in London, “Evita” traces its roots to a 1976 rock opera album. The play’s original British run, helmed by the American director Harold Prince and commencing in 1978, lasted for more than 3,000 performances over eight years. The musical had its Broadway debut in 1979 and became the first British musical to win a Tony Award as Broadway’s best. Patty LuPone was Broadway’s original Eva Peron, with Mandy Patinkin playing opposite LuPone as the narrator, Che (a fictional character not to be confused with Che Guevara).

The 1996 U.S. feature film “Evita” starred Madonna and Antonio Banderas in the roles LuPone and Patinkin had enacted. The aforementioned “Don’t Cry” song has been covered by the likes of Karen Carpenter and Olivia Newton-John.

Locally, the cast numbers approximately 16 members and is headed by TOM newcomers Lindsay Woppert as Eva and Joe Gallo as Che. Also in what Mann has called “an all-star cast” are Sean Duncan as Juan Peron, Argentina’s president and Eva’s spouse, the other half of a decidedly charismatic couple; and Jeff Anderson as Agustin Magaldi, a singer who was known as “The Sentimental Voice of Buenos Aires.”

Professional ballroom dancer Alicia Wright has been handling the choreography at TOM, while Mark Carlstein is the musical director whose duties include having charge of several instrumentalists.

“The story is based, obviously, on history,” Manfrin said. The reality-rooted, if not literal, retelling begins with the first lady’s funeral following her death from cancer at age 33, then flashes back 18 years and proceeds chronologically. The “Don’t Cry” melody is recurrent during the play’s two-hour-plus running time (supplemented by an intermission). All told, “Evita” is a mixed bag of musical types.

The musical by Webber and Rice “is going to be our final (production after nine years) in downtown Oconomowoc,” Mann pointed out. He called the “Evita” cast “just a great bunch of people, all wanting to help out the theater before we move. We are delighted they decided to do this production as a benefit for the theater.”

Mann continued, “Tickets are going fast. I think everyone wants to see the final performances at this location and help contribute toward our move.”

Tentative plans call for the community thespians to relocate to the Brown Street Market Place strip center in the Town of Oconomowoc.

At a glance

Who: Theatre on Main, Oconomowoc community theater company

What: “Evita,” the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical play

Where: 25 S. Main St., Oconomowoc

Phone: 262-560-0564

When: Friday through Sunday, July 18 through July 20, and July 24 through July 27; 4 p.m. Sundays, 7:30 p.m. other days

Tickets: $20 for adults, $15 for seniors (62 and above) and students Website: www.theatreonmain.org