Hopewell Theatre Aims High with ‘Evita’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – “It’s the biggest thing the Hopewell Theatre has ever done,” says Marlene Strollo of the upcoming production of “Evita.”

Strollo is directing the production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice musical drama, which ran for four years on Broadway beginning in 1979 and was adapted into a 1996 film. The show includes a cast of 15 and a live band.

“We’re trying to do more challenging things in our little theater,” Strollo says. “We’ve had bigger casts but it’s such a small space to put this big a show on.”

The Hopewell has a very limited backstage area and no wings on the side of the stage.

“There are 15 people in the cast and they have to be backstage the whole time,” says Strollo. “All costume changes will take place in that small space.”

The Hopewell started doing musicals just three years ago. 

Strollo noted two other reasons why “Evita” was selected for this season.

“It’s one of my favorites,” she notes, pointing out she has directed it in the past, “and it’s also the 100th anniversary of Eva Peron’s birth in 1919.”

“Evita” tells the story of Eva “Evita” Duarte Peron, wife of Argentine President Juan Peron, who was considered the guardian angel of the people during her short but visible time in the sun. She was beloved by her countrymen, but was never accepted by the military and aristocracy. She died in 1952 at age 33.

The musical tells her story in a series of scenes that follow Evita from her lowly beginnings to her rise and then her premature death.

Maureen Gorman Stenglein plays the title role, with Tom Gent as Juan Peron, Shannon Stenglein and Keri Jennings as his mistress, Garry Clark as tango singer Magaldi and Matthew DiBattiste as Che.

Rounding out the cast are Rebecca Clark, John Dalbec, Niki Latsko, Jill McBride, Jennifer Milligan, Dan Reay, Regina Reynolds, JoAnne Santagata and Bob Smart.

The ensemble members double as many characters, such as the workers, the officers, the army, the diplomats, the Duarte family, the aristocrats, the children. 

Ed Phillips is musical director and Lori George is choreographer.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25, 26, Nov. 1 and 2; and 2 p.m. Oct. 27 and Nov. 3. Tickets are $17 general admission ($14 for senior citizens and students). For reservations, go to  www.hopewelltheatre.org or call 330 746 5455. 

Pictured: Maureen Gorman Stenglein plays the title role in Hopewell Theatre’s production of “Evita.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.