Argentine Star Roger Becomes New West End EvitaDate: 30 January 2006
In the much-anticipated upcoming revival of Evita, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1979 musical, the title role of the real-life Argentinian actress who reached her country’s pinnacle of power will be portrayed by a real-life Argentinian actress. According to the Sunday Times, Elena Roger will play Eva Peron in the Michael Grandage production, which is due to start performances in June.
Previous Evas – none of them South American - have included Elaine Paige (who created the role in the original 1978 production at the West End’s Prince Edward Theatre), Patti LuPone (who won a Tony Award for it on Broadway) and Madonna (who starred in Alan Parker’s 1996 film version). A singer, dancer and actress, the 30-year-old Roger is one of Argentina’s biggest stars.
At a press conference at the Langham Hilton tomorrow (See The Goss, 24 Jan 2006), Grandage and Lloyd Webber will officially unveil Roger, who, accompanied by Lloyd Webber on the piano, will sing the show’s best-known number, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”, which was a chart-topper when released as sung by Julie Covington. The musical’s score also includes “Oh, What a Circus” and “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”.
Though never an elected official, Eva Peron was idolised by the poverty-stricken masses and became a powerful political influence in post-war Argentina after becoming the second wife of President Juan Peron. In 1952, she died from cancer at the age of 33. Her body was stolen, taken to Europe and kept in secret until 1976.
Originally touted for a 2003 opening, despite a summer 2002 Big Debate in which Whatsonstage.com theatregoers named Evita as the musical they would most like to see revived, the production was put on hold because Lloyd Webber (who is also acting as producer) felt the theatre climate was then too biased towards feelgood shows rather than those with serious political themes (See The Goss, 4 Nov 2002).
The new production is directed by Grandage, designed Christopher Oram and choreographed by Rob Ashford, the same creative team behind the current West End revival of Guys and Dolls. It’s expected to open at the 1500-seat Adelphi Theatre, currently home to long-running Kander and Ebb musical Chicago, which will finish performances there on 22 April before moving on 28 April to the Cambridge Theatre (See News, 26 Jan 2006).
- by Terri Paddock