Evita may have been the most difficult show to pass through Garnet Valley’s auditorium according to the music director, the drummer, and a lead actor.
The musical contained minimal dialogue, something that proved to be very difficult to many in the cast. “Evita is definitely one of the hardest, if not the hardest show I have done,” Mike Jones, one of the lead actors said.
The music was not just demanding for the actors, but also for the musicians.
The music director, Krista Thomas believes Evita was more challenging than musicals before it because of the recitative style to certain parts of the show. “It is kind of like talk-singing. There is never a very consistent melody and it can be difficult to follow the actors.”
She has musically directed twelve shows at Garnet Valley and plans to increase that number in the following years. She has conducted the music of a variety of musicals and was able to explain the difference between professional level broadway shows and Jr. level ones. “We are doing professional level music and dialogue and vocals and it is far more challenging than junior versions made for high schoolers.”
The drama club had many new musicians added to their pit this year including a cellist, two trumpetists, and a drummer.
For the drummer, playing in the pit was a big change. “…For drumset, I usually play in my basement.” Ryan Armani, a junior in the marching band and drumline, was a perfect addition to Evita’s pit.
For Ryan, the hardest song in the show was a fast-paced, 7/8 song in act two. “…The hardest song was ‘The Money Kept Rolling’ because of the time signature. I was just playing eighth notes and sometimes I added 16th notes…It wasn’t complicated for me, but it was frustrating
because I knew that I wasn’t changing anything…but I knew if anything happened with the rest of the pit, I had to accommodate for that.”
If the entire pit had been asked, the answer would have likely been the same: ‘The Money Kept Rolling In.’
Mike Jones, a talented actor, singer and drummer believed his prior drumming abilities helped him with the complex Evita music. “Well I have had a natural talent for drumming and rhythms and it seemed to really help with deciphering the difficult rhythms in Evita.” Mike played Juan Peron, the President of Argentina and Eva Peron’s husband. When asked if he could play any other male lead in Evita, he picked Agustin Magaldi, the tango singer. “I would have picked Magaldi because he is a Casanova and it would have been so easy for me to play.”
Mrs. Thomas said not only was the music difficult to conduct, the actual score proved difficult for her to read. “Normally they give you a score with just the piano and you have little notes of what other instruments are playing, but this score had every single part of every instrument written on every page really tiny. It was helpful at points, but the print was so tiny and was taxing to read for a few hours.”
Mrs. Thomas had a fairly obscure way of learning her music for Evita. “To start a show I listen to the soundtrack when I exercise to get used to the tempos and to get them in my head.”
The drama club is preparing to put on their next musical this April. A Chorus Line will be performed this Friday, April 27th, and Saturday, the 28th.