Earlier this week, I did a blog post about the lady herself, Eva Peron! (Missed it? Click here!) Now I wanted to share a little history about some of the other real-life characters in EVITA, on stage now thru April 27th at the Music Hall at Fair Park!
Ambitious military figure who is initially ousted from power and then elected President of Argentina in 1946 and creates a powerful government administration with Evita’s help.
Juan Perón’s father was of Sardinian descent and the real family name was Peróni. His formative years were spent on a sheep ranch in the remote southern region of Patagonia. At school he was more successful on the athletics field than in the classroom and he gained admission to the Colegio Militar (Military College) at the age of 16 in 1911.
He continued to excel in sports, graduated two years later as a second lieutenant and progressed to Sargento Cabral Officers’ School. Leaving there as Captain Perón, he entered the Escuela Superior de Guerra (Superior War School) where he became Professor of Military History and was appointed to the War Ministry. He wrote several military volumes and was acknowledged as an expert on matters martial.
In 1936 he was appointed military attache in Chile and his next posting took him to Italy. He absorbed the politics of Mussolini and visited other European states, including Hitler’s Germany. Returning to Argentina and its corrupt regime, Perón believed that only military rule could bring glory back to Argentina. He was instrumental in founding the Grupo de Oficiales Unidos (Group of United Officers) whose policy was simply to establish a military dictatorship. They met little resistance and staged a coup in 1943. Perón became Chief of the Secretariat of the War Ministry – an important man who could help Eva continue to succeed under the new regime.
Perón’s military experience made him painfully aware that he could not survive in office with military backing alone. If his political ambitions were to be realized he needed the support of the majority – the labor forces of Argentina. With this in mind, he obtained the position of Director of the National
Labor Department which in 1943 was elevated to become the Secretariat of Labor and Public Welfare. The 1944 earthquake disaster in San Juan provided him with a further boost to his popularity as he set up a Relief Fund and made sure that the press coverage concentrated on his caring side.
Our narrator, Che is the charismatic, passionate, hopeful yet cynical guide through the events of Evita’s life. As he narrates, he is present in many scenes, playing different “roles” to provide insight, criticism and commentary from a variety of perspectives.
In Argentina people use the expression “che” in the way that English speakers use “hey” to attract someone’s attention. Argentineans often begin conversations with “Che (name) how are you etc…” As a term of affection it can also be used in the way we might say chum or buddy. Che therefore seemed an appropriate name for the narrator character of Evita. During discussions about the original 1978 production of Evita, the character evolved into a representation of the revolutionary Che Guevara although he would never actually have met Eva Perón. For this new production the creative team have returned the narrator figure’s anonymous status. As an everyman character Che is able to comment more naturally, and directly, on the developments in Eva’s life and career.
Tango musician who is Evita’s first love interest. He is her “ticket” from small town life to the excitement and possibility of Buenos Aires.
Juan Perón’s lover who Evita sends packing in order to take her place center stage in Perón’s life.
It is a fact that when Perón began his relationship with Eva, the mistress she usurped was just 16 years old and he would occasionally pass her off as his daughter. Rumors of his sexual proclivity may have been exaggerated, but he did seem to like his women young. Eva was 24 years his junior and his third wife was 35 years younger than him.
ENSEMBLE • THE PEOPLE
The ensemble represents the variety of people of Argentina as Evita makes her rise to power and prestige, most dramatically as The Descamisados – “shirtless ones.”
EVITA is presented by Dallas Summer Musicals at the Music Hall at Fair Park thru April 27th! Click here for details and tickets.
See you at the theater!
The benefits of reviving a show on Broadway is that it can be reinvented and refreshed as if it is a new story being told. Of course, with EVITA, this is not only a musical that has had it’s place in history, but it is one that is full and rich with real-life history. Here are some things to know about the changes and updates that have been made to this iconic and classic musical.
FOCUS ON AUTHENTICITY
The creative team has done extensive research about Argentina and the Peróns to present a more authentic look at the story, while still paying homage to the iconic moments.
When ALW and Tim Rice wrote Evita in the 1970s, only Rice had visited Argentina, and there wasn’t as much accessible information about the Peróns outside of Argentina as there is today.
In the 1970s, Latin culture was less familiar to the general English and American public than it is now so the musical was written with an admittedly “Anglo” perspective of Argentine culture for an audience that wouldn’t have had a reference.
ALW and David Cullen have re-orchestrated the show to give it a more authentic, Latin sound.
Rob Ashford’s choreography reflects a more Argentinean style by incorporating tango. Furthermore, this production features more dance than any of its predecessors as dance is an inherent and important part of the Argentine culture.
The design is inspired by Argentine architecture.
There is a new song added to the score since the original production: Oscar-winning “You Must Love Me” – written for the 1996 film and was included in the ‘06 London production.
In this production, the narrating role of Che is as it was written for the original concept album – an “everyman” (in Argentina, “che” means “guy”) that serves as the voice of the people; not Che Guevara. Using Che Guevara as inspiration for the role was a choice made by the original production’s director, Hal Prince.
Webber & Rice have said they wrote the role of Che with a pop/rock star in mind (specifically: David Essex)
Want to read about the history of Eva Peron? Click here to see our previous blog post.
Want to read about the history behind the major scenes in EVITA? Click here to see our previous blog post.
EVITA is on stage now thru April 27th at the Music Hall at Fair Park. Click here for tickets and more information.
See you at the theater!