“Evita”, TPAC and Studio Tenn‘s first-ever collaboration, debuting at TPAC’s Jackson Hall Friday, September 9 with through Sunday, September 18, not only
serves to open TPAC’s 34th season, but also Studio Tenn’s seventh season.
With a cast featuring Broadway’s Eden Espinosa as Eva Perón, Ben Crawford (“Les Miserables”, “Shrek the Musical”, “Big Fish”) as Che, Tony Award-winner Anthony Crivello (“Kiss of the Spiderwoman”, “Evita”, Les Miserables”) as Juan Perón, and current Nashvillians René Millán and Mia Rose Lynne rounding out the primary cast as Migaldi and The Mistress, “Evita” is being touted as one show not to be missed this theatre season.
As for the show’s aforementioned lead actress, to borrow a phrase from one of the show’s more popular numbers, Broadway star Eden Espinosa has more than ‘just a little touch of star quality’. Perhaps best known for her role as Elphaba on Broadway in “Wicked”, Espinosa’s also appeared as the green one in mountings of “Wicked” in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. Among her additional theatre credits, Espinosa originated the role of Flora in the workshop of “Brooklyn the Musical”, a role she then took to New York for the show’s Great White Way premiere. She also made history as part of the closing cast of Broadway’s beloved “Rent”. In fact, Espinosa and the rest of “Rent”‘s final Broadway cast can be seen in Sony Home Video’s “Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway” on DVD and Blue-Ray.
In addition to her impressive Broadway credits, Espinosa is also known for powerhouse vocals. To that end she’s carved a niche as a popular solo vocalist, having performed cabaret style shows in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco…and Nashville. That’s right, in 2013, accompanied by famed pianist Johnny Rodgers , Espinosa headlined in a one-night-only event, “Absinthe: A Broadway Cabaret. Speaking of one night only, just last month, as a teaser of this weekend’s “Evita” opening, Espinosa wowed the crowd with a spine-tingling, breath-holding rendition of the show’s penultimate “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” at Studio Tenn’s annual gala, One Night Only.
So, how do you get a Broadway star like Espinosa to star in “Evita” in Nashville? It helps that she and Studio Tenn’s incredibly talented artistic director, Matt Logan go way back. A little over a decade ago, Logan and Espinosa were both living in Los Angeles and became great friends during Riverside Performance Theatre’s run of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. Of reuniting with Espinosa for “Evita”, Logan recently revealed, “For several years Eden and I have dreamed of teaming up to do Evita. We have been close friends for nearly 15 years now. I watched her rise to stardom and I always thought she was born to play Eva Peron.”
On bringing “Evita” to the stage at TPAC, Logan continued, “As I grew into a producer/director I had my eye on this Andrew Lloyd Webber classic. I never dreamed that this collaboration would have the platform of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Broadway series. It is an honor and delight. I love that we are bringing Broadway to Tennessee.”
TPAC’s president and chief executive officer, Kathleen O’Brien echoed Logan’s sentiment recently by stating, “As our creative community grows, we are seeing the exceptional quality of art and music created right here in Nashville and in Middle Tennessee. Studio Tenn’s vision and creative choices are stunning, and audiences will enjoy both the production value and the story of Eva Perón told from a new perspective. I’m thrilled by the opportunity to create a new dialogue about how to produce world-class Broadway theatre here at home for our audiences.”
Of course it’s not just Broadway talent who’s featured in this production of “Evita”. Among the local performers making up the ensemble are a number of faces familiar to Nashville theatre fans including: Laura Matula, Erica Haines, Shelean Newman, Nan Gurley, Neal Buckley, Bradley Gale, Tony Nappo, Andrew Morstein, and Galen Fott. The dance ensemble includes Anna Claire, Caleb Marshall, Lauri Gregoire, Billy Ditty, Abby Docherty, Arik Vega, Delaney Gold, Kyle Caress, Lexie McEntire, and Quintan Craig. TPAC and Studio Tenn are both known for nurturing new rising talent. That is evident in the fact that twenty current Belmont University students will also be among the company.
A quick look at social media confirms the excitement of this weekend’s opening night. Early Friday morning, with just hours before opening night, Studio Tenn’s own managing director, Jake Speck took to Facebook to express his feelings about tonight’s culmination of a dream with, “Tonight we make history. Tonight we open the Broadway Series at TPAC. The first time in the 34 year history of the building that a local or regional company has been given that honor. Tonight I will sit in those seats, the same seats I sat in as a high school student numerous times dreaming of doing what the people up on that stage in those national tours were doing. I got to go to NY and do that and then I got to come back home and help create it!”
To be part of Nashville history in the making as “Evita” takes to the stage at TPAC’s Jackson Hall, Click Here to purchase tickets. For more about “Evita”, Click Here. To check out what TPAC has in store for their 2016/2017 season, Click Here. Studio Tenn’s full season can be explored Here.
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