PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Evita and Its Touch of Star Quality

By Harry Haun
06 Apr 2012

Michael Cerveris
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Having grown up with the Peron legend, Roger is a little bemused by Cerveris' homework on the role. "He did so much research to do Peron. When I go to his dressing room, I laugh because he has all those pictures, and he has a lot of stuff from Argentina up there — Juan Peron, Evita — and he's buying tango recordings. If you go to his dressing room, it's like being in a very small flat in Argentina."

Cerveris agreed. "I have to say that some of my finest work on this show is my dressing room. Eric, my dresser, and I try to evoke Argentina, and I think we've done a good job. Elena calls it my bulin, which is the Argentine word for a room for a rendezvous.

"The whole production has been a thrill and incredibly hard work, but easy in such a fantastic way and bounded in such an immediate and meaningful way."

For a standby, DeCicco clucked with contentment: "Are you kidding? It's Eva Peron, twice a week. Being a standby is a little bit calmer than being an understudy because you know you have performances and you know if you do your work it pays off.

"Elena's very sweet. I love watching her perform. I've learned a lot from her. She's been incredible and tremendous and very kind and very giving. I've certainly asked her a lot of questions, and she has been wonderful in providing every single answer. Then, it's just figuring it out as an actor." One nice thing: they've cut her some slack about duplicating Roger's authentic Argentine. "We don't have to do a Spanish accent. They've been fantastic about it. 'Well, you're not Argentine, so don't do it.'"

Martin, who's top-billed but defers to Roger at the curtain call, came late to the party, made a fast pass through the revelers smiling broadly and left.

What press activity there was came at the start of the evening, with the red carpet in the alleyway in front of the hotel getting a heavy workout from celebrities.

Starting with: Debra Messing and Will Chase of "Smash," Brian Boitano, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rent's Anthony Rapp, producer-actor Michael A. Alden, Love Never Dies' Sierra Boggess, Relatively Speaking's Marlo Thomas and hubby Phil Donahue, comedienne Kathy Griffin, Vogue's Anna Wintour, Jill Paice, Alexandra Silber, Elizabeth Stanley, Tony winner David Hyde Pierce and Brian Hargrove, Barbara Walters in shocking pink and subdued manner ("No, Evita was a little before my time"), Tonya Pinkins, CBS's Gayle King, Come Fly Away's Karine Plantadit-Bageot, director Lonny Price (toiling on his Merrily We Roll Along documentary), Cheyenne Jackson ("I just spent this last year writing an album. We haven't decided on a title yet"), Harvey Evans, John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey and a fit-as-a-fiddle-looking Michael Douglas.

Max von Essen
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Also: John Noble, Adamari Lopez, Desmond Child, Bernie Williams, Amy Fine Collins with daughter Flora, Ruth Wilson, John Quinones, Rafael Marquez and Jaydy Michel, Maggie Grace, Elizabeth Vargas, Andy Cohen and Khrystyne Haje.

Bryan Batt arrived with his Love Letters pen-pal, Patricia Clarkson, and his life partner Tom Clanfichi: "Tom and I met 23 years ago doing Evita at the Carousel Dinner Theatre in Akron, OH — and we've been together ever since. I was Che and he was a Magaldi understudy. So we had to come tonight."

"I caught a preview and came back," admitted Vanessa Williams. "Ricky's enunciation is great. I was completely blown away by it. You can understand every word."

The Tony-nominated Maria of Broadway's last West Side Story, Josefina Scaglione, headed up a large Latin contingent that included Jorge Arguello and Susan Sega, Karla Monroig and Tommy Torres, Marco Zunino and Bianca Marroquin, Ruben Blades ("I'm here for Ricky and Puerto Rico") and Luba Mason.

Constantine Maroulis recognized there was a role for him in Evita but is now too concentrated on his Jekyll & Hyde ("We start rehearsing in August, hit the road a bit and be back here the end of the year"). Similarly, lyricist-director David Zippel said he's planning to tour his Primary Stages show, The Best Is Yet To Come: The Music of Cy Coleman, and, hopefully, bring it in.

Richard Jay-Alexander, the first to put Ricky Martin on Broadway (in Les Miserables years ago), starts directing Kristin Chenoweth April 7 for her 19-city tour that will begin May 9 in Seattle.

Lin-Manuel Miranda with wife Vanessa, was reeling from the news he got about Evita's missing corpse, alluded to in the show's last lines and amplified by a friend after the show. "Google it," he challenged.

Read more about the Broadway history of Evita in the Playbill Vault