INTERVIEW: Evita's Mike Sterling set for Derry

Millennium Forum 9th - 13th October

Above, L-R Mike Sterling (Juan Perón), Lucy O'Byrne (Eva Perón), Glenn Carter (Che) and the cast of Evita UK Tour 

The award winning Evita will be ‘Surprising Good for You’ when it arrives at the Millennium Forum next month to thrill local audiences once again.

Eva and the gang have embarked on their 40th anniversary tour this year, and you can catch the hit musical when it is performed in the city from Tuesday 9th until Saturday 13th October.

A story which has captivated audiences throughout the world over the years, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s breathtaking musical truly is one of the most iconic pieces of theatre ever to be produced.

With rave reviews following the cast wherever they go, local Evita fans are going to be in for a treat.

Lucy O’Byrne (The Sound of Music, Les Misérables) will take on the iconic role of Eva Perón, with Mike Sterling (The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables) as Juan Perón and, Glenn Carter (Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Misérables) as Ché.

We caught up with Juan Perón, aka Mike Sterling, ahead of the production arriving on cityside.  

“It’s going great” began Mike. “It’s been doing phenomenally well considering this is its 40th year. It’s been so well received and we’re having a great time. It’s quite a schedule, but the show gives you it all back as it is such a great piece. It’s got a great cast and great musical director.”

Evita tells the story of Eva Peron, the wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron, and how she rose to extraordinary wealth, power and iconic status from humble beginnings. She had the love of the working class, so much so, that she was heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’ by the Argentine people.

Upon her death in 1952 at the young age of 33, nearly three million people attended Evita's funeral in the streets of Buenos Aires.

“It’s the journey” said Mike when asked about the longevity of the show. “It’s the team of Peron and Eva, because they were such a great team. Whatever people think about dictators, before Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice brought this tour to people, they may have taken a different view. What this does is focus on the human story.

“It’s a love story really. It doesn’t actually start that way, but it certainly develops from this contract which they have to help each other politically. They were both very powerful people individually. She came from nothing and became one of the most powerful woman.

“What Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber have done is personalised it. Plus it’s pretty accurate to how things really happened, but its a human story which the people can associate with.

“It crosses over so many boundaries and there’s still a lot of things within the piece which are still relevant today. And of course, it has phenomenal music, the lyrics are so powerful” said Mike.

And speaking about the charachter in which he plays, Mike delved into the psyche of the man who was revered and yet feared by the Argentinian people.

“He was quite fearsome” explained Mike. “He was a formidable character that you just didn’t mess with. He was very powerful and had fingers in so many pies. He was an officer when he started, and climber the ranks and maneuvered people out of the way to then get his opportunity to stage manage.

“It's quite fun playing this role as he is actually quite deep. He doesn't miss a thing and he has a great relationship with Eva. They have such great esteem for each other its very evident within the story that this is what people relate to, everyone loves a love story.

“Initially it was about convenience, I’d be good for you, you’d be good for me, and then with this esteem which they have for one another, they actually fall in love.

“Whatever people think of Peronism and what their views are, you have to understand, to be able to have three stints as President, he must have been a very clever guy. He must have been a formidable force within the political world.

“From the military into the politically stage, whether it was wrong what he was doing, he had to get it exactly right to get where he did. He manvered it like a chess game.

“He was also an observer. He was this foreboding character who you would see observing everything that's going on. It’s different to my other roles in the sense that I can just stand back and observe absolutely everything, and then come in and out at various points of action with Eva, who is played by Lucy O’Byrne, and who is just off the scale. She is wonderful” said Mike.

Evita has become a firm fan favourite over the years, featuring some of the most-loved songs in musical theatre. As such, I was interested to know if this brings with it any added pressure. “You have a responsibility” explained Mike.

“With anything, you have artistic licence but this is actually pretty much how it happened. You have a responsibility to tell the story and research Andrew’s writing. It's all there in the piece. The signs are all there and what you're doing in the role is retelling the story of what you believe this character to be.

“It's also a big responsibility to the audiences in general to make what you're doing very clear, whichever direction you take, and so far they have been loving that” explained Mike.

“The dedication has paid off and I am loving the role. It's been a revelation for me going into all of this.”

You can catch Evita at the Millennium Forum from 9th - 13th October.


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