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story.lead_photo.caption Yael Reich plays Eva Peron in the current tour of Evita, onstage Friday-Sunday at Little Rock's Robinson Center Performance Hall.

Evita, the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical about the rise of Argentine chorus girl-turned-almost-saint Eva Duarte Peron, is back on tour, just in time to mark the 40th anniversary of its 1979 Broadway debut.

It'll be onstage at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Little Rock's Robinson Center Performance Hall, under the auspices of Celebrity Attractions.

Evita

7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Robinson Center Performance Hall, 426 W. Markham St. at Broadway, Little Rock. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Tim Rice, marking the 40th anniversary of its 1979 Broadway debut. Presenter is Celebrity Attractions.

Tickets: $23-$66

(501) 244-8800

ticketmaster.com

Miami-based actress Yael Reich, whose credits include national tours of Rent and Mamma Mia!, plays the title role, with Lance Galgon as Che Guevara and Gary Barton as Juan Peron.

Eva Duarte's ambitions raise her from small-town poverty to the "big apple," Buenos Aires, and an acting career that brings her to the attention of similarly ambitious Col. Juan Peron. Together they take over the government, but accusations of corruption and a virulent cancer eventually bring her to a tragic end.

Director/choreographer/co-producer Andy Ferrara says audiences for the limited national touring production, which hit the road in early January, will see the latest version of the show, the one in which Ricky Martin played Che on Broadway, and which incorporates the song "You Must Love Me" transplanted from the movie version that starred Madonna.

"It was quite fun to work really closely with the representative of the Really Useful Group [Lloyd Webber's production company]," Ferrara says. "It allowed us to ask, 'What about this, what about that?' So it's re-conceived, reimagined; [audiences] want to see something new, they don't want to see the same old thing."

The biggest new element, he says, is the huge LED screen on which plays a show-length video.

"We produced a two-hour video that is basically both our backdrops and helps us tell the story," he says. "Within the video we have different styles, everything from a '50s type of look to skies and whatnot. It really enhances the story.

"The opening, we're doing the 'Requiem [for Evita],' and we can physically be in church with shafts of light through stained-glass windows. Later we can have a bunch of candles on the screen. It was fun to go in that direction.

"We worked over a year on just the video screen, going through the whole design process and clearing process, to make it diverse enough. For 'Rainbow Tour,' we did a map of Europe with a plane flying in front of [each] location. We went through and cleared all these images of Eva actually going to France, actually going to Italy, all those things." The video also includes newsreel footage of Eva's funeral.

As a side benefit, of course, it means the touring production doesn't have to haul around sets and scenery. "Well, yes and no," Ferrara says. "We don't have any fly pieces, but of course the LED screen is quite heavy and quite large. But it's easier to put together than all the scenery pieces.

"Evita normally is not a fully realized show where you're going from this location to [that] location. Because it's an opera, really -- a lot of it is spoken dialogue that happens to be done on pitch, to a score. And with this video, we realized it a little bit more. We really only have boxes and chairs and a few furniture pieces to set our location.

"And a coffin. Of course. The show opens and closes with a coffin."

Weekend on 03/14/2019

Print Headline: Buenos Aires comes to Arkansas when Evita takes stage

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