By RITA CHARLESTON
For 21st Century Media
“Evita,“ the seven-time Tony Award-winning musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, comes to the Academy of Music June 17-22.
Based on the life of Eva Peron, wife of former Argentinean president Juan Peron, “Evita” tells the story of this controversial woman who was much loved by the ordinary people of Argentina. and her battle to help the poor people of her country before losing her life to cancer in 1962.
The country, stricken by the news of her death, goes into a long period of mourning for “Santa Evita.” The production features such beautiful songs as “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” and “High Flying, Adored.”
Josh Young of Wallingford takes the role of Che, the narrator in this show, recreating the role as it was written for the original concept album — an “everyman” that serves as the .voice of the people.
“Using Che Guevara as the inspiration for the role was a choice made by the original production’s director, Hal Prince,” Young explains. “But in our production, Che is an everyman. He works in a tannery and is from the working class, or one of the ‘shirtless ones’ as Evita calls them “
Young says although he never saw the original production, he believes the way the character of Che performed is the one major difference in this show. “But my main responsibility in this show is just like it has always been no matter who is in the role, and that is to keep everyone at the edge of their seats the entire time we’re performing In fact, that’s been my job with all the characters I’ve been playing in the last four years.”
After graduating from Syracuse University, Young got his first big break playing Marius in the national tour of “Les Miserbles.” Other roles included a 2012 Tony award nomination and Theatre World Award for his critically acclaimed Broadway debut as Judas in Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
As Young looks back on his theatrical beginnings, he says it was a teacher who originally saw his potential.
“Growing up I got into a lot of trouble and was really bad in school, so my parents put me into a children’s theater group in Swathmore to give me something to do. A teacher there really liked me, thought I had a good voice, and encouraged me to go on and make the most of my talents. I was about 12 when the bug really hit, and I’ve never looked back,” Young says.
Seems as though nothing has kept audiences from coming back to see this show. Young thinks that’s due in part to the beautiful music. “I also think they come back so many times because of the new orchestrations, and our particular cast, and the fact that we tell the story as well as it’s ever been told.
“Ours is a special group and I don’t know the next time the combination of direction, set direction, lighting, dancing, vocals and acting will all come together as brilliantly as it does in our show,” he said.
IF YOU GO
“Evita” plays from June 17 to 22 at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust streets in Philadelphia. Tickets range from $20 to $105, and can be purchased by calling (215) 735-3333 or going online to kimmelcenter.org/broadway.