As Caroline Lowe says, Evita certainly isn’t a happy, cheerful show. It’s full of powerful, strong, difficult emotions.
And maybe that will help.
It comes as Worthing Musical Comedy Society is still trying to come to terms with the sudden, unexpected death of company stalwart Andy Taylor, at the age of 67.
Evita would have been Andy’s 100th show with the company. The Evita dress which will be seen on stage was the last piece he made for them.
The show runs from Tuesday, October 22 to Saturday, October 26 at Worthing’s Connaught Theatre – and inevitably it has been an extremely difficult time for everybody.
“Andy was an amazing man,” says Caroline. “You think of Andy, and you just smile. You just think of his enthusiasm. He was such an amazingly talented man. He played many leads, but also creatively he was great. He would be dressing the sets. He will be missed in so many ways. He was one of those people that was just always here. He was the face of the company. But we are now at the stage where we are doing it for him.”
And as she says, Caroline hopes the sheer power and emotion of the show will help get them all through: “It was just such a complete shock. I had been speaking to him the night before. A lot of people grew up with Andy. He never missed a show… and this would have been his 100th
“It has been very hard. I have known Andy virtually my whole life. He was such a central person. It was a huge blow for all of us. The first weekend we were all thinking ‘How can we do this, feeling what we are feeling?’
“But it is the old cliché. Everybody has pulled together. We felt that the show had to go on. His wife Chris is still doing the show. She is one of the ensemble. And Andy would have been doing some little cameos as well…”
Caroline has been with the company for nearly 30 years and is now increasingly pursuing her interest in directing: “I love doing it. I love the creative side of things, that vision that you create and that you see coming together on stage. It is incredibly hard work, but it is very rewarding.”
The piece tells the story of Eva, her rise and her fall.
As a young woman who longs for an acting career, fame and fortune, Eva quickly learns that her feminine wiles hold power in a culture and a political system run by men.
Once she makes it to Buenos Aires, Evita finds fame and, with her powers of seduction, eventually seduces the rising political figure, Juan Perón, who becomes the President of Argentina.
“I have seen so many versions of Evita. I saw the original in London when I was about 13, and it made a huge impact on me. I just fell in love with the show. I didn’t understand all the political side of the show at that time, but the music just took my breath away.”
All of which helps gives Caroline a clear idea of what she is wanting to do – a production which very much focuses on the story-telling. As she says, she has seen productions where Che is very much the Everyman character – not the right approach, she feels.
“I want to get back to that tension between him and Eva – even if they didn’t actually meet in real life. I want there to be a sense of real sparring between them.”
Caroline is delighted with the cast she has got for the show: “They are really good at telling the story through the songs. It is not just about making sure that you are singing nicely. It is about making sure that the story comes across.
“I enjoyed the film. I thought Madonna was made for the role, and I thought it gave a good political context to the film. But Antonio Banderas as Che… I was not so keen on his interpretation. He was more the Everyman. I really want that tension between him and Eva.”