PLAYBILL BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Rob Ashford, the 2012 Tony-Nominated Choreographer of Evita
By Adam Hetrick
Tony Award-winning Thoroughly Modern Millie choreographer Rob Ashford is celebrating his seventh Tony Award nomination for the first-ever Broadway revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical Evita.
This production of Evita is so cinematic. There is a constant sense of movement throughout. Where does your work as choreographer, and that of director Michael Grandage, begin and leave off?
Part of that achievement is also the work of the designers, too, right?
The original Hal Prince production of Evita is iconic. It has toured and been restaged across the world. Part of that package is Larry Fuller's Tony-nominated choreography. Did that shadow you at all?
Did you still have that in your muscle memory when you revisited the music?
You want to reinvent it, somehow, and with all of our knowledge of Argentina and what it is now. It was really nice to get to the real depth of the people, the heart of the people and come from there. The idea was to do a more naturalistic and realistic version. The set is realistic, the tango is the basic [movement] language [throughout]. It's more natural [dance flow] rather than [the] clever commenting and staging that they did in the original. I think both are valid. I think the original is brilliant, myself.
What were some of the first moves or images that came to you when you began work on Evita?
Another was the Charity Concert. The idea was that...there would be these shadow dancers in the back, dancing alone. The rule was that nobody could dance as a couple, a sexual couple, until Peron and Eva got together. That was one of the first ideas. So we had these shadow couples, men and women separate, dancing as if they had a partner, and they cannot touch or be together until Peron and Eva were together. As soon as they come together, then the other couples come together and we have that dance of passion that they all do.
A very exciting moment in the production is "Buenos Aires." The way the set opens, and we see the bustling city, is such a powerful visual.
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