An Interview with Associate Director, Daniel Kutner from Evita

Here is part one of the group interviews from the Evita media call with Associate Director, Daniel Kutner.

What: Evita – the Musical
Where: State Theatre, The Arts Centre

Performances run until 23 February, 2019
For more information, please visit www.evitathemusical.com.au

Daniel – on the production
“What’s so interesting about this production is, you are looking at the original production, original staging, and something that has held up for over forty years. This show was originally a concept album by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and they built a show out of the album. All in their prime, building something from the ground up, the very height of collaboration.”

Daniel – on his involvement in creating the show
“I went to [American director] Harold Prince. Said, “I need to know the show and I need to pick your brain”. So we said, “Why don’t we go to the Lincoln Centre library and we’ll watch the original production together?” So he and I were sitting in the library watching the original production and I’m noting it and asking him questions about intentions and concepts. He’ll be 91 in January, but as soon as that video went on everything came right back to him. It was like he was smacked right back into the 1970s, and all the detail, it was incredible. I sat with him, we discussed the entire thing and I studied the video.”

Daniel – on changes of this production to the original
“There’s some new bits. In the intermittent years, Andrew Lloyd Webber has updated the orchestrations and the arrangements so he keeps saying, “I was so naïve’ thinking that I could tap into this Latin sound when I was the age that I was without the proper research.” He’s infused it with a more Latin-inspired feel which has affected the music slightly but enough to alter the staging a bit. I figured those bits out with Mr. Prince, and we adjusted accordingly. Not to mention the inclusion of You Must Love Me, which was written for Madonna for the film and won an Academy Award. That was not part of the original production [but is] part of the production now. It’s a gorgeous number.”

Daniel – on what he hopes audiences will take away from the production
“What’s very interesting is, we’re talking about an essentially updated forty year old original production that, in my mind and in many people’s minds, is timeless. I think it’s the political ramifications. With all due respect to the big hits like Wicked and Hairspray, it’s not that. It’s a serious piece of theatre. It’s a very odd ending – Che narrates how Evita’s body was lost for 17 years. We have this other worldly confrontation between Che and Perón, then a boom and that’s it. No music for play-out for a curtain call. It’s a very challenging piece. I would hope people would leave examining or questioning at least the society that they are a part of, the leadership that is looking over them and to be more informed about what’s going on in the world.”

Daniel – on the role demands/relationship between Eva Perón and Juan Perón
“It’s a powerhouse of a role. One of the most dynamic vocally and character-wise roles in the musical theatre canon.  A woman, historically and in the narrative, filled with such ambition. [Husband, Juan] Perón was a leader and he did have his strengths, but he also had his weaknesses and that’s where she picked him right up and lead him along. It’s not a puppet situation as far as I’m concerned. It’s about where that equivocation lives and where she can sweep in, pick up and give confidence to move forward to lead.”

Daniel – on casting Tina Arena as Eva Perón
“It was a no-brainer. This role, out of the greatest of musical actresses can make mince meat out of them because the vocal demands are so high. Tina came in right away and she made it easy. We knew that she had the chops – we had to look no further than Tina. The vocal demands are just enormous. Even when casting understudies, it’s a very difficult role to cast. You [need] that effortless quality, that wonderful rich voice and that intense ambitious creature – Tina embodies all of that. It was a joy working with her.”

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