CEDAR RAPIDS — Eva Duarte de Peron blasts away the adage “it takes two to tango.” Her entire life was a tango, as she moved from poverty to the pinnacle of success as the highflying-adored first lady of Argentina until her death from cancer in 1952, at age 33.
New generations continue to discover her through Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera, it took Broadway by storm in 1979, winning six Tony Awards, including best musical, music and lyrics honors.
Revival Theatre Company of Cedar Rapids is bringing a semi-staged version to Sinclair Auditorium at Coe College from Nov. 17 to 19. It’s a performance style similar to the group’s production of “Parade” last fall, with the action playing out in front of a large chorus. Sinclair’s deep stage allows for plenty of fancy footwork, from tangos to waltzes.
“There’s a ton of dancing in the show,” said Amy Stoner, 33, of Cedar Rapids, who portrays the title character. She added that it feels more like a fully-staged show, and ribbed director Brian Glick that he’s the only director she knows “who holds a dance audition for an in-concert production.”
She dances with all the main male characters, including husband Juan Peron (Joe Wetrich); tango singer Agustin Magaldi (Ian Goodrum), who took the ambitious teenager Eva to Buenos Aires; and Che (Tim Arnold), who acts as an interpreter for the audience and the voice of the people Peron’s regime left behind.
“Our first video was worse than the ‘Dancing with the Stars’ rehearsals,” said Wetrich, 43, of Marion, setting off a round of laughter with his co-stars. “It was like, ‘Oh, I must fall over there.’”
“I refuse to go back and watch the videos of Amy and I,” added Arnold, 40, of Marion.
“We’ve improved drastically,” Stoner said.
The role of Eva, played by Patti LuPone on Broadway and Madonna in the 1996 film, is among the top of Stoner’s bucket list.
“There’s just so many different parts to her personality and so many different emotions,” she said. “One of the things that’s really fun for me is that I have been fortunate to play ingenue roles in the past, which is enjoyable in a certain way.
“But this is so fun because she’s not always a nice person. She switches just on a dime. She’s so impulsive and passionate.
“It’s fun to play a lead or ingenue-ish type of character who also has so much passion and sometimes anger, which is not something that I’ve always gotten to portray onstage,” Stoner said.
The musical also has changed her perceptions of Eva.
“What surprised me was how much she loved the poor people of Argentina. I don’t think I realized that,” she said. “Just in the research that Brian (Glick) had sent me, and then in singing the text over and over, she talks to them and about them all the time.
“Before, I thought of her as kind of ruthless and climbing over the top for selfish reasons, but knowing that she started out as a poor young woman, it makes sense that she loves them and that the things that she’s doing are for them. Her compassion surprised me.”
Stoner added that even though some people through the years have deemed Eva's marriage as a business partnership that allowed her to climb to the top and accomplish her goals, Stoner sees her softer side of her union with Peron, a military man she helped propel to the presidency.
“I like to think that they love each other.”
WHAT: Revival Theatre Company presents “Evita”
WHERE: Sinclair Auditorium, Coe College, 1220 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 to 19
TICKETS: $35 general admission, $15 student rush, (319) 366-8203 or Artsiowa.com/tickets/concerts/evita/