Last Thursday, before embarking on a rehearsal of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Evita’, some members of the cast and crew of Trinity’s Musical Theatre Society made time to discuss their collective adventure with Trinity Life. After the success of ‘West Side Story’ which sold out the day before the premiere, TMT has decided to offer not three but four nights of ‘Evita’ in the O’Reilly Theatre, Dublin’s second biggest stage from the 14th to the 17th February.
When asked what is important about the upcoming production, Sean Cassidy, chair of the society, began by stressing two different aspects. On the one hand, for the prospective spectators, it is worth remembering that Eva Peron, the protagonist of ‘Evita’, was a real person and a hugely important historical figure in Argentina. On the other, Cassidy was proud to emphasize that everybody involved in the show, from the fifty eight cast members to the extras, from the orchestra to the seven heads of production and their teams, are from Trinity. He celebrated the fact that a team “inherent to Trinity” is able to offer to the Dublin audience an almost-professional show.
Describing the process of deciding which musical to stage after the success of ‘West Side Story’ last March, Josh Hurley, one of the leads in this year’s production, confessed that the choice was not easy. ‘Evita’ was eventually the perfect match for TMT. He recognised that the show is well known, properly dramatic and convenient to showcase several talents at a time. Last but not least, as the Treasurer of TMT, he added that the rights were not too staggering!
All the members of TMT present agreed on the fact that despite only being in their second year of existence they feel both comfortable and empowered. One of the leads, Rua Barron, declared that the experience garnered last year by the society enabled the cast and crew to foster “better and bigger ambitions” this year. In the same vein, the designer Lauren McDonard referred to her current work as “less tentative, more confident, as if this year’s motto was ‘Let’s expand!’”.
Out of some two hundreds students who were auditioned in October, half of the chosen ones are new to the TMT stage. One of these newcomers, Dave Quane, playing the lead part of Juan Perón, celebrated how welcoming the society had been for the new members and artists. He also praised the power of a rehearsal to brighten up any bleak week of the Michaelmas Term.
In order to go above and beyond last year’s standard, the director Séimí Campbell, who already directed ‘West Side Story’, has chosen to largely avail of his creative licence. Far from being inspired by the conventional and glamorous staging of ‘Evita’ he felt the need to adopt a more realistic perspective on the show. This staging is according to him more in keeping with Eva Peron’s poor background and he hoped it will appeal to a wider public not only composed of musical buffs.
Just before the rehearsal, Lainey O’Sullivan, TMT’s Evita, spoke highly of the choice of an “organic” production. She declared that impersonating Eva Peron was much more challenging than the part of Maria in ‘West Side Story’, because it was not only about entertainment but also about doing justice to the memory of a “bad-ass woman ahead of her time”, too easily reduced to mere elegance and extravagance. O’Sullivan finally wished that the production would convey to the Dublin audience “hope in the form of leadership”.
For any observer, the technical rehearsal that ensued was enough to prove the closeness and the eagerness of Evita’s cast and crew. Led by a highly invested Séimí Campbell, they performed several times, with equal energy and good humour, the intense “Rainbow Tour”, a song that depicts the ups and downs of Evita’s 1947 European tour. Supported by an enthusiastic chorus, the graceful Evita and the wry Ché were equally impressive. Judging from that performance and almost quoting Tim Rice’s lyrics, TMT’s ‘Evita’ will hopefully “be an incredible success”.