DIVA TALK: Chatting With West End Evita Elena Roger Plus News of Buckley and LuPone

By Andrew Gans
28 Jul 2006

Q: Tell me about your musical theatre background. Where did you train? What other musicals have you performed? Do you have a favorite show from your previous work? Any musicals you'd particularly like to perform one day?
Roger: I started training in different dance styles [when] I was 11. At the age of 15 I began my singing lessons, and once I became a professional performer, I dove into acting.

Nearly all my experience took place in Buenos Aires. I was part of the cast of the original production of Nine there, as well as Beauty and the Beast. I also played Fantine in Les Miserables, and Annette in Saturday Night Fever. There were also some other local productions like Houdini, La Fiaca and a musical that I devised with Valeria Ambrosio called Mina, che cosa se!, based on a very famous Italian diva. The musical won five awards from the critics, and it was my favorite show in Argentina. I would love to go back to that one day.

I also would love to star in Cabaret, Chicago and Sunset Boulevard (when Im older!).

Q: How long are you contracted with Evita? What has this experience been like so far? Where would you like to see your career go from here?
Roger: Im contracted with Evita for a whole year. So far, its been a very moving and exciting experience and regarding my career, I like to take [it] one day at a time and see what life has to offer.

[Evita starring Elena Roger (as Eva), Philip Quast (as Peron) and Matt Rawle (as Che) plays London's Adelphi Theatre. For tickets call 0870 895 5598.]

She received raves for her singing Norma Desmond in the London and Broadway productions of Andrew Lloyd Webbers Sunset Boulevard. Now, Betty Buckley will have a chance to perform the original screenplay in the Hollywood Bowls upcoming staged reading of Billy Wilder's film noir classic. Buckley, who was nominated for an Olivier Award for her performance as the deluded silent screen star, will be joined onstage at the Bowl by Douglas Sills as ill-fated screenwriter Joe Gillis, Len Cariou as Normas former husband and present butler Max von Mayerling and Jean Louisa Kelly as the naive, aspiring writer Betty Schaefer. The company will also boast Hal Sparks as Artie Green, Conrad John Schuck as Cecil B. DeMille, Tom McGowan as First AD, Ken Howard as Repo Man, Charles Durning as LA Captain, Fred Forrest as BH Captain, James Cromwell as Sheldrake, Bruce Davison as Morino, Ted Heyck as Jonsey, Tom Costello as Guard, Daisy Egan as Connie, Alan Johnson as Hog Eye, J. Todd Adams as Cop and Holland Taylor as Hedda Hopper. The Aug. 6 reading is set to begin at 7:30 PM and will feature Franz Waxman's Academy Award-winning "Sunset Blvd." score. The score will be performed by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra under the direction of John Mauceri. The "Sunset Blvd." screenplay was penned by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder and D.M. Marshman, Jr. David Rambo has adapted the script for the one-night-only event. The Hollywood Bowl is located at 2301 North Highland Avenue in Hollywood, CA. For ticket information call (323) 850-2000 or visit www.hollywoodbowl.org.

Tony and Olivier Award winner Patti LuPone, who is currently appearing on Broadway in the acclaimed revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, will take part in four performances of a new work by Jake Heggie this fall. Heggie, who composed the opera Dead Man Walking with librettist Terrence McNally, has penned a "short lyric drama based on 'The Rape of Persephone,'" according to the composer's official website. Entitled To Hell and Back, the piece, which features a libretto by Gene Scheer, will make its premiere Nov. 2 at the First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto, CA. LuPone, who will soon be seen in the Ravinia Festival's staging of Gypsy, and soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian will be featured vocalists in To Hell and Back. Nicholas McGegan will conduct the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Subsequent evenings of To Hell and Back will be presented at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, CA (Nov. 3); and at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley, CA (Nov. 4 and 5). For additional information visit www.pattilupone.net or www.jakeheggie.com.

Elaine Stritch, who starred in Noel Coward's 1961 musical Sail Away, will revisit several Coward favorites in a new, untitled show that will open in December in London. Variety reported earlier this week that Howard Panter will produce a show featuring Coward's work for the Tony-winning actress. After its London bow, the show "built for and around" Stritch will make its way to Broadway.

Sarah Litzsinger (the current Belle of Broadway's Beauty and the Beast) and Kate Reinders (the latest Glinda in the New York company of Wicked) will join forces for a one-night-only concert at the Ars Nova. The two actresses, who promise to shred the term ingnue, will debut their new band TastiSkank Aug. 7 at the West 54th Street venue. Described as the "newborn love child of the Indigo Girls and Tenacious D," TastiSkank will offer songs about everything "from sex to pills to dirty boys who will remain nameless." Show time is 10 PM. The Ars Nova is located in Manhattan at 511 West 54th Street. Tickets, priced at $15, are available by calling (212) 868-4444 or by visiting www.smarttix.com.

And, finally, following acclaimed concert presentations of The Secret Garden, Children of Eden and Pippin, an all-star concert of Rags will be presented Dec. 11 to commemorate World AIDS Day. The 20th anniversary production of Rags which will be held at the new Nokia Theater in Times Square is being co-presented by artistic producer Jamie McGonnigal and The Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation. Altar Boyz' Stafford Arima will direct the one-night-only event, which will feature musical direction by Avenue Qs Mark Hartman. Casting will be announced at a later date. Proceeds from the concert will benefit The Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation and Camp TLC (Teens Living with a Challenge), a residential summer camp program for teens living with HIV/AIDS. For additional information about JDAF/Camp TLC, visit www.jdaf.org. Rags tickets will go on sale in October. For sponsorship opportunities, e-mail RagsConcert@aol.com.

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.