For this week's performances at ASU Gammage, Alabado brings her character's baggage home. Rendering pure, lyrical notes in Another Suitcase in Another Hall with child-like innocence, the Mistress' lonely number floats out the audience's collective sympathetic ear. The girl exits in the care of the show's working class narrator, Che. A show stopper in his own right, Che, played by Tony Award winner Josh Young, shushes Alabado's timidly hurt "Where am I going to?" with a lulling "Don't ask anymore."
In a dressing room interview after the show Alabado confides that she registered "in the back of my ear" the emotional applause ushering her offstage. She wasn't the only one who heard a mesmerized, "Bravo!" as her number faded out.
She emphasizes her song is as much hopeful as it is sad. With a pointed finger parental kind of warning, she recounts director Michael Grandage's playful "No Feivel!" (referring to the teary ballad in the popular animated children's movie). Alabado sweated through nine separate call backs for the reward of being cast as a solo character in this national Broadway tour. Her ability to evoke that kind of hope gives her some impressive firsts on a national stage. First creation of her own back story for a character. First orchestra pit accompanied solo. With affirming gratitude Alabado notes it's been a "huge stepping stone in my career."
The Tony Award winning musical revival relays poignantly the serious, yet circus-like, true story of Eva Peron who is exquisitely played by fellow Broadway actress Caroline Bowman. It tells of her fantastical rise from poverty to fame and first ladyship in Argentina shortly after WWII. The Andrew Lloyd Webber / Tim Rice opening What a Circus number provides the initial three ring act feel. The show's beginning scenes depict the historical facts of Eva's early actress career during which she 'performed' increasingly difficult roles and acts, not necessarily all on stage.
After meeting then-Colonel Juan Peron, a young Eva literally kicks Alabado's character out of soon-to-be President Peron's mansion with just a suitcase. Alabado's beautifully naive, ousted Mistress seems then a homeless, ever-traveling troupe member.
In Act II, the show goes on with High Flying Adored noting the dizzying trapeze heights to which Peron soared. An ironic, tango-infused Waltz for Eva and Che marks Eva's decline into fragile health, accompanied by the pit's thinly veiled circus music. Echoing Alabado's final lyric in the first act, Eva weakly implores several numbers later "where am I going to?" continuing the circus cycle.
Having "been in the Broadway business for six years," Alabado's homecoming is a wonder-filled one. Her family and many friends are here in the Mesa-Chandler Valley. She loves that she has cast members staying at her parents' home with her during this leg of the tour. She loves that she is speaking at Hamilton, her old high school this week. She loves that she is teaching a master class on ASU's campus.
"I wish Broadway was in Arizona" she says wistfully, thinking of her many supporters here. And in a way, last night and for the rest of this week, it is. And Krystina Alabado is one of its main attractions.
"Who knows?" Alabado smiles in answer to a question about what's next. Brimming with hopeful anticipation, both the young woman and her character exit on an almost tangible, shimmering, "Where are you going to?"