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THEATER : Actress Is Through Casting Off : Touring 'Evita' Player Is Ready to Stay at Home for a While

April 15, 1993|M.E. WARREN | M.E. Warren covers theater regularly for The Times Orange County Edition.

"Life upon the wicked stage ain't ever what a girl supposes," warns the worldly-wise chorine in "Showboat." But for Fountain Valley native Diana Kavilis, the wicked stage has provided a steady income, a ticket to every major city in the United States, and working visits to Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Italy, England and Japan.

And now, after a decade on the road, she's back home.

Touring with "Evita" as an ensemble player and as understudy for the leading role, Kavilis has rolled into Costa Mesa, where the production continues through Sunday at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

So she's a local girl who made good, and how good did she make it? In an industry that has a legendary unemployment rate, "she never needed an agent," boasts her mother, Mary Solomon.

"She didn't even graduate with her (high school) class," Mom continued, "because she was on a U.S. tour with the Young Americans" and she's been on the move ever since, living in hotel rooms, nurturing her nine-year marriage long-distance and negotiating her own contracts. She has sung and danced with national and international tours of "Cats," "A Chorus Line," "Jerome Robbins' Broadway" and, now, "Evita."

Finally, Kavilis says, the joys of the road are wearing a little thin.

"I've been to a lot of the towns (on this tour) already."

To make matters worse, this isn't a "long-staying tour. Those are great. We were in Chicago a year with 'Cats.' " The "Evita" company, which has been touring since last August, stops in each city for only one or two weeks and sometimes moves on after only three performances.

Kavilis has developed her own home-away-from-home survival system. When she gets to her hotel room, she unpacks "immediately--to make a home." She beguiles her free time by investigating the local sights.

If there is one, she visits the local Air Force museum. She has conducted her own thorough tours of military facilities throughout the country: the D.C. Air and Space Museum, the Intrepid aircraft carrier in New York, facilities in Dayton, Ohio, and Pensacola, Fla. She recently visited Pearl Harbor and reportedly left no ship uninspected.

"There's something about World War II that has always fascinated me. Modern wars, like Vietnam. . . . I've always liked planes."

But Kavilis hasn't come home to fly away. She's come to stay awhile. After the Costa Mesa engagement, she'll be leaving the "Evita" company and "retiring" to the home she and her husband own in Norco.

"I stayed (one night) in my own house, and I was screaming with joy," she said. "I'm thinking of having a baby and planting some plants in my yard. It's mostly dirt right now."

She isn't planning to leave the applause completely behind. Kavilis has hopes of working in Los Angeles.

"Eventually," she said, "I'd like to get into the recording business. I'd love to do jingles."

"And," she added, with matter-of-fact determination, "I'll have to get an agent."

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