Stained Glass Playhouse opens Evita, Twin City Stage receives prestigious award

by Mark Burger

Andrew Lloyd Webber at the set of How do you solve a problem like Maria? in 2007. (photo by Tracey Nolan)

They couldn’t get Madonna, but the Stained Glass Playhouse’s production of the Tony Awardwinning Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical extravaganza by Mark Burger Evita will open Friday, contributing columnist July 23 with Jaye Pierce in the title role.

Like Webber and Rice’s earlier stage hit, Jesus Christ, Superstar, Evita began life as a concept album before coming to the stage. The show premiered in London’s West End in 1978, followed the next year by its Broadway bow, under the direction of Harold Prince, with Patti LuPone in the title role. The Broadway production ran nearly four years and over 1,500 performances, winning Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. (A Broadway revival is on tap for 2012.)

After several false starts, the film version of Evita was released in 1996. Directed by Alan Parker, the film won Madonna a Golden Globe Award for her performance in the title role.

Evita is based on the life of Eva Peron (1919-’52), the controversial first lady of Argentina. Fueled by drive and ambition, she became a starlet at 22, the mistress of Argentina’s president at 24, the First Lady at 27 and dead at 33. To the common folk, she was a symbol of pride — one of their own come to greatness. She founded the Female Peronist Party (named in honor of her husband, the president Juan Peron) and championed women’s rights. To Argentina’s aristocracy and military, however, she was mistrusted and even detested. Her legacy remains much debated to this day, nearly 60 years after her untimely death from cancer.

Becky Burke directs this production, with Marie Denig serving as musical director. The cast also includes Jim Shover as Juan Peron, Matthew Morris as Che, Brandon Lloyd Hicks, Hannah Rivers, and a cast of 30 actors and musicians.

All performances will take place at the playhouse, located at the Marvin United Methodist Church (4401 Indiana Ave., Winston-Salem).

Evita is scheduled to run through Aug. 8.

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $12, $10 for students and senior citizens. Reservations are suggested.

For reservations, call 336.499.1010. For more information or group rates, call 336.6661.4949.

Last month, Winston-Salem’s Twin City Stage was honored with the Twink Lynch Award, as presented by the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) during the banquet at AACT International 10 in Venice, Fla.

The award recognizes community theaters that have successfully completed steps to expand community services and advance organizational development.

One of the most venerable community theaters in the entire nation, Twin City Stage began life as the Little Theatre of Winston- Salem in 1935. To celebrate its 75 th season last year, the theater introduced its new name yet paid homage to its history with the slogan: “Put a Little Theatre in your life!” Next season, Twin City Stage will complete its merger with the Children’s Theatre of Winston-Salem, thereby officially combining forces under a single auspice. Twin City Stage will remain an adult community theater and the Children’s Theatre will continue its successful tradition of programming both by professionals for young people and by amateurs for young audiences, as well as conditioning to offer theater classes for all ages.

The AACT provides networking, resources and support to suit the needs of those actively involved in community theater. The organization represents the interests of more than 7,000 theaters in the United States and its territories, as well as theater companies with armed services overseas.

For more information about Twin City Stage, visit the official website: