Home December 2013 His Own Persona

His Own Persona

Eva Peron and Che tango waltz into the spotlight of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts stage December 10 to 22 for the first national tour of the Tony Award-Nomination smash hit of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita.  This is the first new Broadway production of the seven-time Tony Award-winning musical since it debuted more than 30 years ago.  Starring will be Tony-nominated Josh Young as Che, Caroline Bowman as Eva Peron and Sean MacLaughlin as Juan Peron.
Young as Che, the fun-loving translation of its Spanish name “Hey Buddy,” identifies with his own persona as a kid.
A member of a Conservative Jewish family, he reminisces that at age 12, he was a “wild, rambunctious kid.”  Growing up in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, his parents decided to enroll him in a theatre class at Pennsylvania’s Young People’s Workshop “hoping to keep me out of trouble, settle me down and increase my creativity.  It was the best thing they ever did for me.  From that point all I wanted was theatre.  I love this more than anything else.”  His education continued at the Pennsylvania Governors School for the Arts, and he holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University.
“This role in Evita fits me so well in terms of singing,” he said.  “I love the story telling, but I love singing it as if I have been singing it my whole life.  It is a perfect match for my voice.  This is my most fun role.”  The story is told through the score, including “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” “Buenos Aires,” “Another Suitcase in Another Hall,” “High Flying Adored” and “You Must Love Me,” the Oscar-winning hit from the film Evita.
Young played Che for the first time in 2010 at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario.  But this is a different Che, re-imagined, he explained.  And he is pleased to appear as this different character.  Producer Hal Luftig and Hal Prince, the original Broadway director of 1979, originally decided to make the character “Ernesto Che Guevara,” adding some serious tension with Eva because their ideas conflicted.  The original won a Tony with Mandy Patinkin as Che Guevara.  But in this production the script says only “Che,” creating the “buddy” character, revealing specifically how members of the working class people are affected by Juan Peron and Eva’s political moves.
“I had originally played the Che Guevara character and was worried that the new Che wouldn’t be as effective in telling the story.  But I feel that this is the best way to tell the story, and I am pleased to be back doing it again in a totally different way.”
Directed by Tony and Olivier Award winner Michael Grandage and choreographed by Tony Award winner Rob Ashford, the play tells the story of the life of Eva Duarte Peron, second wife of Argentine president Juan Peron from 1946 to 1952.  She supported the low-income and working class, spoke on behalf of labor rights and championed women’s suffrage, winning international acclaim and the adoration of her own people.
In the play Che is a member of the working class, providing for his family, and needs Eva to change his life.  In the beginning as young people, Young explains that they are friends, then the relationship changes.  Throughout the production they don’t have much contact, but they finally do in the climax duet of “The Waltz for Eva and Che,” where they sing and tango waltz at the same time.  “Essentially it’s a confrontation,” Young explained, “with Che questioning if she is just a puppet.  Is she in it for her own benefit or for that of the people?  It ends with a love-hate relationship.”
“There’s a lot of wonderful singing and incredible dancing; the best of the play are the songs and dance.”  Young added, “This waltz becomes a climax, creating a source of controversy in the ending.  It leaves people thinking.”
Young, 33, is a recipient of a 2012 Tony Award nomination as the best featured actor in a musical and the Theatre World Award for his critically acclaimed Broadway debut as “Judas” in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar.  He also won the award for his role as Connie Rivers in Grapes of Wrath at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
He has never considered another profession.  “But the quality of the audition is so important; your life depends on it.  So, when I’m auditioning, I wonder that if I don’t get the job, am I going to work again?  But it’s worth it in the end, because I wouldn’t be happy in any other field.  I find that in this profession, if you just work really hard, work begets more work.  This has become my favorite role.  I love the relationship between the audience and the other actors.”
His hope is that when the national run of Evita ends in June 2014, other plans he has in the works, including Broadway, will come to fruition.
He is the co-founder of Cutting-Edge Composers, concerts for young upcoming songwriters.  It is a concert series that strives to create greater exposure for new songwriters by providing them with venues, publicity, performers and musicians to best showcase their material.
Single tickets, which start at $25, are available online at SCFTA.org, the box office at 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, or by calling (714) 556-2787.

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