‘Evita’ to be performed at Schuster next week


Gannon University’s Schuster Theatre production of “Evita” will transport audience members to Argentina in the late 1950s with performances beginning next week.
“Evita” is a rock-opera musical that follows the life of Argentinian political leader Eva Peron.
Covering her early life, rise to power, and accomplishments as a superior political woman, “Evita” is a powerful story showcasing Peron and her impact on various class groups within Argentina.
These class groups range from aristocrats to the blue collar working class and the homeless.
With a small cast of 12 Gannon students and two child actors, presenting these many groups posed a challenge for the cast.
Director Jax Vadney said that while some say it is an impossible feat, adapting “Evita” for a small cast has turned into a creative challenge accomplished by making a few people appear larger to the imagination.
“It is a challenge that I think will be one that also challenges our audience to embrace,” she said.
“It has been challenging especially for costumes, since we have people constantly changing roles from one song to the next. So as much as it is an orchestration of song and choreography onstage, it has created just as much need for figuring out a lot of details behind the scenes as well.”
Vadney is no stranger to adapting to different production situations, as she has directed several productions for the Schuster Theatre through the last nine years including “A Lie of the Mind,” “Rosencratz and Guildenstern are Dead,” “The World Goes Round: The music of Kander and Ebb,” “Return to the Forbidden Planet,” “A Tuna Chirstmas” and many more.
The 14-person cast for “Evita” consists of Zak Westfall (Che), Allie Leng (Eva), Michael Haas (Peron), Tom Barton (Magaldi), Jenna Sulecki (Mistress), Kassie Carlson, Megan Hamm, Karalyn Headley, Dominic Hipple, Brandon Saraniti, Stephen Haywiser (Ensemble), Emily Munsee, Molly Sawdey (Children’s Ensemble), Bethany Lewis and Lauren Sovisky (Chorus/Movers).
In addition to the cast, many other students are involved in the production behind the scenes.
A large group of student designers and technicians work to create the world in which the story can be told.
“I see the collaborative support and energy from both sides of this production and it excites me,” Vadney said.
“It is invigorating to see the students create, to see them figure things out, and to see them invested in developing the best product that they can put out there.”
One feature of the “Evita” performance that is different from most Schuster Theatre productions is the way in which the audience will be seated.
“Evita” will introduce an alley-style theatre in which two audience areas will face inward to a central performance space.
This configuration has not been done in the Schuster Theatre in the last four years.
“It is fresh and exciting to not only come and watch a show, but be drawn into the community theater,” Vadney said.
“Evita” performances are 8 p.m. April 21-23 and April 28-30, as well as 2 p.m. May 1.
Admission is $7 and free for Gannon students, faculty and staff with a current Gannon ID.
For more information about “Evita” and all productions at the Schuster Theatre, visit www.gannon.edu/schustertheatre, LIKE the Schuster Theatre on Facebook at www.facebook.com/schustertheatre or follow The Schuster Theatre on Twitter @GUSchusterThea.

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