Why York Light Opera Company have two Evas, two Ches and two Juan Perons in Evita

Neil Wood (Juan Peron), Emma-Louise Dickinson (Eva Peron) and Jonny Holbek (Che): principal trio from one of York Light’s casts for Evita

YORK Light Opera Company is using double casting for the main roles in Martyn Knight’s production of Evita in response to the pandemic’s abiding impact.

“We are on our 18th cast list, with casting and rehearsals affected by Covid, long Covid and physical injuries,” says Martyn. “We’ve kept the principal casts separate, which has required us to double the number of rehearsals.”

Running at York Theatre Royal from February 9 to 19, Evita tells the story of Eva Peron’s rags-to-riches life as she goes from poor provincial child to First Lady of Argentina on her “Rainbow Tour”. A champion of working-class descamisados (otherwise known as “the shirtless”), she uses popularity and politics to serve her people and herself.

For Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical of people, power and politics, Alexa Chaplin and Emma-Louise Dickinson will share the lead role of Eva Peron; Dale Vaughan and Jonny Holbek will play Che; John Hall and Neil Wood, Juan Peron; Dave Copley-Martin and Richard Weatherill, Agustin Maglidi, and Fiona Phillips and Hannah Witcomb, Peron’s Mistress.

John Hall (Juan Peron), Alexa Chaplin (Eva Peron) and Dale Vaughan (Che): the other principal trio for York Light’s Evita at York Theatre Royal

“It’s a fully sung show and double casting provides each team with sufficient rest,” says Martyn. “The main character parts are huge and it would be a colossal ‘ask’ of any understudy to learn and have to perform those roles without significant rehearsal.

“Double casting provides the best possible cover, which is needed more than ever when putting on the production during a pandemic.”

Knight is joined in the production team by musical director Mike Thompson for a Tony Award-winning musical that features the pop chart hits Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, Oh! What A Circus and  Another Suitcase In Another Hall.

Tickets for the 7.30pm evening performances (no show on February 13) and 2.30pm matinees on February 12 and 19 are on sale on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Jonny Holbek as Che in rehearsal for York Light Opera Company’s Evita