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The Independent

July 20, 2018

Four Performances: Las Positas College Presents Evita

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Posted: Thursday, July 5, 2018 12:00 am

If Dulce Maria Tovar is right, God must be thrilled.

“Your talent is your gift from God,” says Tovar. “What you do with your talent is your gift to Him.”

This summer, the terrifically talented Tovar embodies Eva Perón in Las Positas College’s exceptional production of “Evita.” Four evening shows take place July 12-15 under the stars in the college’s outdoor amphitheater.

“Every rehearsal process is a brainstorming of what it was like to be in the world of Eva Perón, a challenging but fascinating objective,” Tovar says. “Delving into the life and history of Eva Perón to then portray her on the stage is the opportunity of a lifetime — and quite the homework assignment! I am inspired and determined to share her life in a way that will stay with the audience forever."

Tovar meets the challenge beautifully. While many theatergoers will recall her unforgettable performances in Chicago and Cabaret, Tovar’s portrayal of Perón captures the duality of Evita’s spirit. At 15, Evita escaped her dirt-poor childhood and headed for the bright lights of Buenos Aires. She was a starlet by 22, the president's mistress at 24, Argentina's First Lady at 27, and dead at 33.

“My favorite scene is the funeral in the opening. The music is so beautiful and haunting, it has almost a churchlike feel,” Tovar says. “It gives me goosebumps every time.”

Evita, the affectionate Spanish diminutive of Eva, was born in 1919, the youngest of five children, in the South American lowlands. In 1934 she moved to Buenos Aires to pursue a career as a stage, radio and film actress. She met Colonel Juan Perón in 1944, and married him the following year. In 1946, Juan Perón was elected president of Argentina, and for the following six years Eva Perón became powerful within the pro-Perónist trade unions, primarily for speaking on behalf of labor rights. She also ran the Ministries of Labor and Health, founded and ran the charitable Eva Perón Foundation, and championed women's suffrage. She was said to be a "saint to the working class, reviled by the aristocracy and mistrusted by the military." She was destined to become a part of international popular culture, but in death, she would become a legend.

“The thing I love most about this production is that it's up to the audience to decide whether they think Eva Perón was a good person or not,” says Celia Reddoch (the mistress). “She was hailed as a saint by the working class for being so vocal in her support of higher wages and the right to unionize. She was vehemently rejected by the aristocracy for publicly pointing blame for subjugation at them. At the same time, she supported a corrupt political system that used force and violence to keep her husband in power. I love that the musical doesn't take one specific stance on her; each group of characters thinks differently of her, and instead of focusing on whether she was good or bad, the musical focuses on her power, how she gained it and how she used it. Her character and intentions are left for the audience to process for themselves.”

Although the Tony Award-winning show, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics and book by Tim Rice, focuses on Perón’s meteoric rise from 1934 to 1952, it is filled with colorful characters wonderfully portrayed with skill, talent and charisma.

Director Dyan McBride says, “It was important to me that I choose a show which would challenge our young actors. I wanted them to understand how valuable it is to have a terrific ensemble. They are the backbone of this musical. I was so lucky to have Greg Zema (Che) and Paul Plain (Juan Perón) come in for auditions as well. They are both terrific actors and musicians in the Bay Area. And, because sometimes the theatre Gods are kind, in walked Dulce Maria Tovar. There is no Evita without an Eva, and she is phenomenal. Keep your eye on her, you might say, ‘I knew her when…’”

All shows begin at 8 p.m., with the amphitheater open for seating at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission, and $10 for all students, military personnel and veterans, and seniors (55+). Parking is $3 (exact change is needed for kiosks) on Thursday and Friday, and is free Saturday after 6 p.m. and Sunday. Las Positas College is located at 3000 Campus Hill Drive in Livermore.

Patrons are encouraged to bring warm jackets and blankets, lawn chairs, and picnics (although refreshments will be available for purchase from vendors).

To learn more, visit www.laspositascollege.edu/performingarts, or call the box office at (925) 424-1120.

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