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'Evita' Stars Step From Stage to Buffet

April 15, 1993|KATHRYN BOLD

A mere 15 minutes after she starred in "Evita" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Valerie Perri was in the spotlight again.

This time, she and the other "Evita" cast members were the stars of a party Tuesday at Birraporetti's in Costa Mesa to celebrate the musical's opening night. The center board of directors invited 200 guests, many of them longtime center supporters, to congratulate the actors after the show and indulge in Italian food.

'High Flying, Adored'

"Evita," the 1979 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, depicts the rapid rise and fall of Eva Peron, wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron.

Perri, who toured the country before as Evita, was ferried to the cast party by limo and promptly settled down to a plate of pasta after the demanding performance.

"This show offstage is as challenging as it is onstage. I'm constantly changing clothes, wigs, shoes," said the actress, who wore a broad-brimmed black hat and suit that would have suited her character's keen sense of style.

"It's a grueling role--emotionally, physically and vocally," she said.

John Herrera found his role as the show's narrator, the revolutionary Che Guevara, a challenge for different reasons.

"Lucky me, I don't have to change clothes. All I do is wear army fatigues and carry a cigar," he joked. "But I have the burden of the narrative story. 'Evita' can come off as Cliffs Notes if you don't have that one-on-one rapport with the audience."

Everyone's a Critic

Guests mingled with cast members and sampled a buffet stocked with a variety of pastas and a massive Napoleon cake for dessert. The party-goers gave the show positive reviews.

"I thought it was fabulous. You really felt Evita's emotions," said Fiona Petersen, chairman of the center guilds, who attended with her husband, Kirk.

"We've seen 'Evita' twice in Los Angeles. It's great to have it in Orange County," said Steve Allen, a center supporter.

Many were impressed by Perri's performance.

"She captured the audience the way Evita would have," said Laurie Veitch, a center supporter who attended with her husband, Christopher.

The show, which runs through Sunday at the center, has been sold out for more than two weeks.

"We had people tapping at the windows to get in," said Tom Kendrick, president of the center. "People love this play. Many have seen it in dinner theaters, but they haven't seen the national tour with this kind of cast."

Others at the party were Zee Allred, Judith Barker, David Brummel (who portrayed Juan Peron), Duncan Coffey, Tim and Susan Strader, Robert O Hill and James and Linda Pierog.


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