Evita comes to the South Okanagan


Lynne Leydier, director for the Soundstage production of Evita, rehearses with the orchestra at the Lakeside Resort.

It’s clear that Lynne Leydier likes the challenge of producing big musicals.

In the past few years, the director for Soundstage Productions has already brought Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair and Chess to Penticton. Now she has taken on the challenge of another major Andrew Lloyd Webber​ musical, Evita.

“It’s a very intense production, it’s huge,” said Leydier. “We’ve got everything in this production.”

All productions have  different challenges but Evita runs the gamut, according to Leydier, starting with the costuming, which reflects the time period of the story.

“There are lots of wigs; we have 30 people in the cast and they all have lots of costume changes and wig changes. Evita herself has four wigs,” said Leydier. “There is lots of stuff going on just in the sound, lighting, video; we got huge costuming and the orchestra.”

Leydier said it’s quite a lot of work for everybody involved in the show.

“Sometimes I think I would like to do something smaller, but this came available,” said Leydier. “I hadn’t done it, and it is a challenge, because it has the political aspects of the time and the story is a good story — rags to riches kind of thing.”

Evita was written in  the early ‘70s with music by Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, concentrating on the life of Argentinian political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón.

The story, first produced in 1978 in London’s West End, follows Evita’s early life, rise to power, charity work and eventual death.

“You’ve got lots of things to explore in there, which appeals to me, and lots of challenges for the actors,” said Leydier. “This will be my third one of his [Webber’s].”

Ashley Atkinson is playing the role of Evita and Lucas Penner is playing the role of Che, who functions as a narrator for the story.

Che, in this instance, is not Che Guevara​. Though many productions use the famed revolutionary as a role model for their productions, Rice intended him to be a more anonymous character.

It’s a concept that Leydier has returned to in this production, casting a younger actor in the role.

“There is no evidence that Che Guevara ever met Eva Perón, or became in any way involved with her,” said Leydier.

Even a new Broadway production of Evita, opening in April, has chosen to go with a more authentic feel for casting Che, according to Leydier.

“They have an Argentinian woman playing Evita and the actor that is playing Che is very young, in no way related to the old model,” she said.

Evita, like other works by Webber, presents some significant musical challenges as the dialogue is all sung by the actors, with complex music to accompany the phrasing.

“In one piece, you might have 10 time changes, said Leydier. “That’s a challenge for everyone, to keep it all together and keep it tight.”

It’s a lot of work to get done in a very short time; rehearsals started at the end of September.

“It’s quite a lot to tackle for our group. We’ve done it in the past, but every time you do it, you go ‘Oh my, it’s a huge job,’” she said. “There is lots of energy and lots of stuff going on in these productions.”

Evita runs from Jan. 18 to Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Lakeside Resort. Tickets are available at the resort. For more information call 250-493-8221 or visit pentictonlakesideresort.com.

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