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From Argentina to Richmond

"Evita" takes the stage at the Landmark Theater

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In his third collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice (following "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and "Jesus Christ Superstar"), Lloyd Webber created the Broadway show including "Don't Cry for Me Argentina." The song became internationally acclaimed as a hit single and was one of the last show tunes to reach the pop charts in recent years.

The music created by Lloyd Webber is a mix of Latin, pop and jazz influences —the effect being almost a rock orchestra. The play's initial 1978 London run of 2,900 performances sold out before the show even began.

Told entirely through song and dance, "Evita" set the trend for British musicals. Sometimes referred to as pop operas, "Les Miserables," "Cats," "The Phantom of the Opera," "Aspects of Love," "Starlight Express" and "Miss Saigon" all followed the musical trends of "Evita."

The story begins in 1934 when Evita is 15. It's around this time that she has to make a choice — either stay a small-town girl and marry like most of her friends, or go to work as a teacher. Evita makes her decision. She will do neither.

Instead, she arrives in Buenos Aires where she uses her femininity to help her rise to success. First a model, she then becomes an actress and finally marries General Juan Peron. After Peron is elected president, Evita becomes the most powerful woman in South America. While in power, she establishes many programs to champion the working class.

Over the decades, the show has received seven Tony Awards, including Best Actress (Patti LuPone). It has been turned into a movie (1996) starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas, and for it Lloyd Webber wrote a new song, "You Must Love Me," which earned him an Academy Award. The film was also nominated for five other Academy Awards.

According to the New York Post, "Evita" is "a stunning, exhilarating, theatrical experience." And that would explain why it's been successfully reproduced in every major city of the world — and now Richmond. S



"Evita" comes to the Landmark Theater June 14 through June 19. Tickets are $39.50-$55. Visit www.ticketmaster.com.

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