Legendary Australian pop diva Tina Arena will be returning to the world of musical theatre to play the leading role of Eva Peron in Opera Australia and John Frost’s production of Evita.
The production is a re-creation of the original West End and Broadway productions, directed by Hal Prince, and is due to open at the Sydney Opera House’s Joan Sutherland Theatre in September 2018.
This marks Arena’s first musical theatre role since she played Roxie Hart in the West End production of Chicago in 2007. Although she’s best known for her hugely successful pop music career, she’s previously appeared in musicals including Cabaret, Nine, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
The role of Eva Peron is an notoriously difficult vocal and dramatic part, and was originated on the West End by Elaine Paige and Broadway by Patti LuPone. Madonna received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in a 1996 film version.
The sung-through musical features a score by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Tim Rice, and includes songs such as Another Suitcase in Another Hall, High Flying Adored, Buenos Aires and the chart-topping hit Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, which Arena has performed in concert several times.
Arena has a long association with Andrew Lloyd Webber, having toured in an early ’90s production of his musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. She also recorded the title track on the concept album of his musical Whistle Down the Wind, and performed the song at his 50th birthday celebration.
Lloyd Webber said, “I am absolutely thrilled that my wish that Hal Prince’s wonderful production of Evita should be seen again is to be fulfilled, and to renew my association with Tina Arena.”
This production of Evita will mark the show’s 40th anniversary, and sees Opera Australia and commercial producer John Frost team up again after their successes with Anything Goes, South Pacific, My Fair Lady and The King and I. This time they’re joined by UK producer David Ian.
The production is directed by Hal Prince, who has won more Tony Awards than any other person with a tally of 21. He will be joined by fellow original West End creative team members including choreographer Larry Fuller and designer Timothy O’Brien.
Auditions for the rest of the cast will be taking place in the coming months. Producers are also looking for an “alternate Eva”, which suggests Arena won’t be performing the full eight show a week schedule. It’s standard practice on Broadway and around the world for a performer in a role of this size to also have an alternate.
Tickets for the production are on sale from August 31.