Playing to the People: New national tour of 'Evita' ready to rule Chicago stage

2013-09-13T00:00:00Z 2014-08-14T20:28:07Z Playing to the People: New national tour of 'Evita' ready to rule Chicago stageBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

While actor Josh Young appeared at Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 2011 in the role of Che for a production of "Evita," directed by Gary Griffin, even earning a Broadway World Award, he's quick to admit his return to the role for a new national Broadway tour of "Evita" offers a different characterization.

"For this run, Che is re-conceived as representing the everyday working man fighting the changes he sees around him,"said Young, during a telephone interview last week speaking from Rhode Island where the new national tour just launched.

"People always ask: 'What's it like to be playing a real person?' While this is the story everyone knows and the songs and music remain the same, there's a different approach to my character."

The tour kicked-off last week at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence, R.I. and opens in Chicago Wednesday and runs until Oct. 6 at Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph. Opposite the Tony nominated Young, is actress Caroline Bowman, who appeared in "Kinky Boots," and now steps in the title role of Eva Peron, with Sean MacLaughlin as Juan Peron.

"So many people know of the music and songs of 'Evita,' and might have seen the film version, but not everyone is as familiar with having seen it on stage," said Young, who also appeared as Marius in the US national tour of "Les Miserables" and "Tony" in the international tour of "West Side Story." He received a 2012 Tony Award Nomination and Theatre World Award for his critically acclaimed Broadway debut as "Judas" in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Jesus Christ Superstar," directed by Des McAnuff.

He discovered producers Hal Luftig, Scott Sanders Productions and Troika Entertainment, were mounting a new national tour of "Evita" and was cast six months ago in the company which also features Desi Oakley as the alternate for Eva, Christopher Johnstone as Magaldi and Krystina Alabado as the Mistress, in addition to Ryan Bailer, Nicholas Belton, Jessica Bishop, Ronald L. Brown, Holly Ann Butler, Diana DiMarzio, Katharine Heaton, Tony Howell, Katie Huff, Patrick Oliver Jones, Ian Liberto, Alison Mahoney, Robin Masella, Megan Ort, John Riddle, Morgan Rose, Chris Kotera, Jeffrey C. Sousa and Tug Watson.

Directed by Tony and Olivier Award-winner Michael Grandage and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Rob Ashford, this is the first new Broadway production of the seven-time Tony Award-winning musical, since it debuted on Broadway more than 30 years ago.

Young said audiences continue to be captivated by Eva Perón, who used her beauty and charisma to rise meteorically from the slums of Argentina to the presidential mansion as First Lady and won international acclaim and adoration from her own people as a champion of the poor. He said it was the glamor, power and greed associated with her story in history which made her the world's first major political celebrity.

The passionate and tragic story has remained a favorite stage tale, as told through Tim Rice and Webber's dazzling and beloved score, including "Don’t Cry for Me Argentina," "Buenos Aires," "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" and "High Flying Adored," together with "You Must Love Me," the Oscar-winning hit from the 1996 film version of "Evita" that starred Madonna opposite Antonio Banderas.

The creative team includes Tony Award-winning Scenic and Costume Designer Christopher Oram, Tony Award-winning Lighting Designer Neil Austin, Olivier Award-winning Sound Designer Mick Potter, Wig and Hair Designer Richard Mawbey, Projection Designer Zachary Borovay and Music Supervisor Kristen Blodgette and Music Director-Conductor William Waldrop, while the orchestrations are by Webber and David Cullen and dance arrangements are by David Chase.

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