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'Don't Cry for Me' Arizona: Evita Debuts at Phoenix Theatre

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Performing Arts Issue: February 2016
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Evita / Photo courtesy Phoenix TheatreWhen a new musical hits town, Phoenix theatergoers make a beeline to the box office, and the upcoming opening of Evita at Phoenix Theatre on Feb. 24 will be no exception.

Here for a 3½-week run, Evita will showcase the talent of Alyssa Chiarello, an Arizona State University graduate who will play the production's titular Argentinian leader, Eva Perón. Her recent credits include the world premiere of Bleeding Love, RENT and In The Heights.

Since Evita opened at the Prince Edward Theater in London’s West End in June 1978, audiences have been enthralled with the reincarnations of Eva Perón. Evita’s music, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Tim Rice, takes some considerable singing chops. To celebrate the opening of Evita at Phoenix Theatre, we’d like to acquaint you with three women who have garnered accolades and fame for tackling the role of Eva Perón.

In 1978, a relatively unknown English actress and singer Elaine Paige was tapped to play Eva Perón in the West End (London) debut of Evita. For her effort, she won the Laurence Olivier Award for Performance of the Year in a musical. In 1996, Paige made her Broadway debut in Sunset Boulevard playing the lead role of Norma Desmond to critical acclaim.
Fun fact: Paige, who changed her name from Bickerstaff to Paige while looking through the pages of the phone book for a stage name, played Perón for 20 months.

When Evita came to Broadway in 1979, Juilliard graduate Patti LuPone starred in the role, for which she won a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. Reportedly, the role of Evita was not a happy one for LuPone, who has said publicly that it was one of the worst times in her life.
Fun fact: Patti LuPone played herself on two episodes of HBO’s Girls in 2014.

American singer, songwriter and actress Madonna took the role of Eva Perón to the big screen in the 1996 Hollywood film “Evita,” directed by Alan Parker. Pregnant while making the film, Madonna was frequently dizzy and sick on the set, but her performance won her a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and squeezed three hit singles from the soundtrack album.
Fun fact: Madonna released her 30th album in 2015.

If you go:
What: Evita
Where: Phoenix Theatre, 100 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix
When: Feb. 24-March 20
Cost: $46-$96
Tickets: 602-254-2151, phoenixtheatre.com