The key to playing Eva Perron is to believe in her, says Grade 12 student Molly Lydon.
The 17-year-old lead takes the stage tonight at the opening night for Spectrum Community School’s 2017 theatre production.
Evita is the latest in a rich history of Spectrum shows that goes all the way back to the 1970s, when the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice production of Evita first hit Broadway.
“A 17-year-old can’t always identify with a 30-something world leader, but I really believe [Evita] thinks what she’s doing is for the greater good, helping other people,” Lydon said. “That’s something I try to portray because it’s [also] really easy to make her a villain and I don’t want to do that, I like her.”
Evita is based on the true story of Argentina’s Eva Duarte, who rose from obscurity to become a model, radio personality, film actress, political force and beacon of light during a time of turmoil in 1930s and ‘40s Argentina. Her rise overlapped with communism and dictatorships. She started the Eva Peron Foundation for the poor before she died of cancer in 1952 at the age of 33.
The tone of the play is a major shift from the Disney-esque Mary Poppins of last year, Lydon added.
“It’s certainly a real story with emotion, not the magic, moral and fun based Mary Poppins,” Lydon said.
The Spectrum revival is based on the 2012 Broadway version with Elena Roger and Ricky Martin, and which only recently became available for licensing.
Lydon is one of the 40 dancers and singers in the mass ensemble that also uses a 20-piece Spectrum concert orchestra (led by Jamie Davis) and 20 more crew members. Dance teacher Lia Shannon helped with the Latin dance choreography.
Director and stagecraft teacher Tim Barss said Spectrum isn’t afraid to put on shows that have a big ensemble.
“From start to finish the performers are either on stage performing or off in the wings doing a frantic costume change so it’s kind of a neat show that way,” Barss said.
“When I tell other people from the theatre community, they are surprised to hear that a high school program is taking on Evita just because it has such a big ensemble,” said Grade 10 student Daniel Zelisko, who plays Magaldi, a 40-something tango singer.
“But we’re ready, we’ve pulled it off, and people will be excited to come see it.”
Show times are March 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m., and March 12 at 2 p.m. in the Spectrum Community Theatre, 957 Burnside Rd. West.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students, and can be purchased or reserved through the school office 250-479-8271.