Amy Larsen is about to take the stage as Evita and she’s set out on a quest to find the real Evita and bring her incredible story to life once again.
Controversy and conjecture have always followed Eva Peron, one of Argentina’s most famous, or infamous characters, depending on where you stand. Evita by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice chronicles her meteoric rise to fame through a brief radio and motion picture career to become the first lady of Argentina and one of the most influential women in the Western hemisphere. To most, she was a hero… a champion of social justice, but to others, she was a political puppet in juxtaposition with the harsher elements of her husband’s militaristic Peronist party.
Amy explains… “A show like Evita was always going to be a challenge. Not only am I performing one of the most famous Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals ever written, I am also portraying one of the most famous female political figures of all time. This is a show with real substance and real history so I needed to do my research in order to do the show justice. I made sure I read and watched a variety articles and documentaries and perhaps surprisingly I had not seen the film adaption of the Evita starring Madonna. I made a point of watching it soon after landing the role and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the film and in particular Madonna’s portrayal of Eva. The music was however adapted to suit Madonna’s vocal range and I am taking the challenge and singing the score as it was originally written.
Although historically, Eva Peron will always be remembered as a very strong and influential political figure, I have also discovered that there was in fact a more vulnerable and caring side to Eva, which is something I really hope to covey. Eva came from a poor background and at a very young age was abandoned by her father. Her mother was forced to move to a rural village in Juana which had a reputation for extreme poverty. It was only through sheer determination Eva moved to Buenos Aires to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and found success as a radio and film star. I suppose because of her very humble beginnings Eva had a strong passion for helping the poor and disadvantaged and used her newly found stardom to help those in need. It was at a charity concert for an earthquake that occurred in Argentina that she met her future husband Juan Peron who was soon to become the President of Argentina. Eva used her position as the First Lady of Argentina for good, to improve the lives of the disadvantaged and fight for women’s rights, a subject which was probably quite controversial at that time. Although Eva had reached the top and found great success, she never allowed herself to forget where she came from.
I believe the musical captures the colourful life and tragic death of Eva Peron really well and doesn’t try and end on a happy note like a lot of musicals do. Evita starts and ends on a very dark and sad note which makes the show unique. I particularly love the final song in Act 1 ‘A New Argentina’ which has quite a heavy rock beat and portrays the historical moment when Peron becomes the President of Argentina and Eva the first lady. This song shows Eva’s strength of character and the influence she had on the people of Argentina, convincing them to vote for Peron as President. I also really like the way the musical explores the relationship between Juan Peron and Eva. Some believe it was a marriage of convenience, using each other for personal or political gain, but I believe the musical explores the tender and loving side of their relationship too and in Act 2, the audience really gets to see how their relationship developed. No doubt their relationship started initially through lust (as most do) but I think they really loved each other. Peron stuck by Eva, even in her darkest moments when military leaders were trying to bring her down after announcing her decision to earn a place on the ballot as candidate for vice-president and of course through her terrible illness that eventually took her life.
I think most people will think of Eva Peron as a very strong and powerful leader and perhaps even someone who manipulated those around her to get to the top. Obviously I want that strength to come through, as Eva would never have become the woman she did without those strong characteristics. However I do want the audience to come away with some empathy for Eva and a respect for what she was trying to achieve. Sadly Eva died at the age of 32 after a short battle with cancer, so I hope the audience will feel inspired by what this woman was able to achieve in such a short amount of time. I also hope they audience come away feeling satisfied with the music. There are a lot of famous musical numbers in the show, the most famous being “Don’t Cry for me Argentina”. I just hope I can do that song justice as I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t know the song. No pressure….
It’s an important role for me for a number of reasons, but probably the most important part of doing this show for me is the music and getting it right. Vocally it really is the greatest challenge I have undertaken but luckily I have been working with a great MD in Phil Osbourne and a fantastic Cast. Especially Zak Brown who plays Peron and Will Sayers who plays Che Guevara. We have all worked really hard on the music from the beginning so mastering this piece of music will be a fantastic achievement for all of us. Andrew Lloyd Webber has certainly not made it easy!”
Evita opens on May 8. While to show is almost sold out, there are still limited tickets available. CLICK HERE for details.