Updated: Oct 15, 2022
Working on a musical is fascinating. We start in January and at first, the musical is a bunch of unconnected wisps of music that echo through your head while you go through your day. Bit by bit, the actors start to do their songs their way; the movement on stage gels and the ideas stop being abstract; and, through the efforts of the cast and crew, the musical comes to be something real.
Evita was a little different for us this year. We had to be very creative in the way we produced it because we are a small school. Normally, a production of Evita calls for a male chorus, a female chorus, a children’s chorus and dancers accompanied by an 18-piece orchestra. To adapt the play to our very talented students, we split the role of Eva into four parts, each representing an age of Evita’s life. The chorus was incredibly hardworking, singing on all but five of the songs in the show, and even then, we created the illusion of larger crowds with cardboard cut-outs.
We managed to feel epic with a 16 member cast. The stage thrust into the audience, like a cat-walk. All four Evas started in a liminal space on the upper stage, as if waiting for their time to shine.
With such large numbers, the costumes were particularly tricky because the chorus acted as the social milieu the songs were set to. Backstage was a regimental affair: a plot of the costume changes by character and by scene measured over 4 meters long. Some costume changes had only 15 seconds to be achieved.
The music of Evita was continuous—there was minimal narration-- and almost all of the dialogue was sung. All of this held together because of Aki Nakajima’s expert direction.
The sets were by Kelly Driscoll, who also managed everything backstage with finesse. We welcomed Cindy Hansen to the production for her contributions to costumes. Gareth Blake, Julie Bentley, Fumi Downing, Kelley Fast, Shigeyuki Iwabuchi, Glen Leadbetter, John Southworth, and Madoka Takai contributed to the production as well.
Now that we have finished the musical this year, even though the set has been dismantled and the costumes laundered, the songs rest in our heads fully formed and leave us with the vivid memory of our production.