McCallum Fine Arts Academy
An Evita who sings, 'No llores por mí, Argentina'
You can hardly accuse Austin's high school theatre programs of taking it easy. Some will mount as many as eight or nine productions in a single school year. They will produce nationally acclaimed new plays before the city's adult, professional companies do. And they will take theatrical works that would be challenging enough to do in their traditional form and give them innovative stagings that double the degree of difficulty. A current example of this last point: The theatre department at McCallum High School's Fine Arts Academy, in tackling the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice megamusical Evita, developed its own bilingual version. The text incorporates Spanish as well as English, so cast members who didn't already know Spanish had to learn it. They've received some help in that from freshman Aline Mayagoitia, a Spanish speaker who is one of two students playing Argentine first lady Eva Perón. (The other is senior Sarah Miller-Crews.)
The department didn't just create this production on un capricho. Head of Theatre Scott Tatum and Theatre Director Julianna Wright have been building toward it for a year, through a number of projects that exposed students to Latin culture and history. Last summer, the pair took 13 students to Costa Rica, where they lived with local families while taking classes in robotics, Spanish, and lighting technology. And last fall, the department staged Lillian Groag's The Magic Fire, set in Argentina during the fascist regime of Juan Perón. The culmination of this immersion in Latin culture will take place this summer, when the students will go back to Costa Rica and perform their Evita for an audience of native Spanish speakers.
And their current run of Evita at home is preparing them for that trip in more ways than one; not only is it helping them hone their performances, it's helping pay their way. Proceeds from the show will be applied toward the summer trip. If you want to support these enterprising young artists or just want to hear how it sounds for Evita to sing, "No llores por mí, Argentina," get to McCallum this weekend.
Evita continues through March 7, Thursday-Saturday, 7pm; Sunday, 2pm, at the McCallum High School Theatre, 5600 Sunshine. For more information, visit www.mactheatre.com.