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Young breaks fourth wall as Che

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Musical lovers can close out the year or start 2014 with Evita at the Paramount in downtown Seattle. The show opens tonight (Dec. 31) but gets out in plenty of time to catch the fireworks over the Space Needle or join various downtown parties.

Created by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber, the musical follows the brief but glittering rise of dirt-poor Eva Duarte to first lady of Argentina. Such songs as "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," and "High Flying, Adored” count as among the duo’s very best.

The current touring production is based on the first new Broadway production of the seven-time Tony Award winning musical since it debuted on Broadway more than thirty years ago.

Caroline Bowman plays Eva after appearances on Broadway in Kinky Boots as an original cast member and Wicked. She’s also performed in numerous tours, including Spamalot (Lady of the Lake), Fame: The Musical (Carmen), and Grease (Rizzo).

Playing Eva’s foil and the voice of the people, Josh Young sings Che. A 2012 Tony Award nominee and Theatre World Award recipient for his Broadway debut as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, also written by Rice and Weber, Young chatted recently about the similarities and differences between these two roles.

From Judas to Che, what's the appeal of playing the guy who is taking a few potshots at the star in the center of the stage?
I never thought about it before. I think they both do call out the respective title characters. If you don't have someone doing that you have Care Bears. This is dramatic musical theater. There has to be drama and tension. I do enjoy being the guy who brings that to the forefront.

So now, what do you think about these characters?
The roles are similar but very different. Judas is a historical figure. The man that a good portion of the world consider the betrayer of Christ. Che, in this production, is a common working class citizen who has a special relationship to Eva Peron. So they couldn't be more different as characters, but they both have same duties. They are both narrators as well as characters in the play. They start each show breaking the fourth wall and inviting the audience in. For Superstar it's "Heaven on Their Minds" and for Evita it's "Oh, What a circus..."

How does that interaction between the audience and Che work for you?
I always love it when an auditorium is set up in a way that I'm able to see audience members as they are essentially my scene partners during certain songs.

You've released your second album Still Dreaming of Paradise. How did you go about selecting the songs for this? The album contains a nice mix of songs from your recent roles and one fan mentioned this made up for their disappointment that wasn’t a Jesus Christ Superstar cast album for the recent run on Broadway.
Allan Detsky, my producer; Brian Lowdermilk, who orchestrated many of the songs; and I developed a formal process to choose the songs. We developed a "vector of eight attributes" about songs that we wanted: beauty, masculinity, great lyrics, integrity, ability to be re-imagined with a great orchestration, power, and so on. Then each of us rated about 300 songs on these measures as well as a global rating. I put it all on a spreadsheet and the songs with the top scores were given the hardest look. Nine of the fifteen songs we recorded were at the top of that list, including two songs didn't make it to the final album. This took about three months.

Where there any other considerations?
Allan really wanted the album to scan the time frame from the 1940s (“This Nearly Was Mine”) to the present (“The Man that I Could Be”) and it does.

And you have two big numbers from Evita and Superstar on the album, giving people a taste of what they’ll hear from you on stage.
“High Flying Adored” and “Heaven on Their Minds” always were on the list as they were songs I sang in shows at The Stratford Shakespeare Festival. We are particularly proud of “Heaven on Their Minds,” orchestrated by one of Allan's students with lead guitar played by Kevin Ramessar who played it in both the Stratford and Broadway productions. It seems to be the only recording of any song done by a member of the cast of that production of Superstar. Allan (who was also a producer of Superstar on Broadway) and I were disappointed that a cast album was not recorded as the voices in that show were phenomenal.

You’re also a co-founder of Cutting-Edge Composers series. Why is it important to you to help bring new works to a wider audience?
I love new musical theatre and if I had my druthers, it would be all I did. So I said "why don't we get all of our up-and-coming composer/lyricist friends and do a concert to promote what each of them is currently working on.” Thus CEC was born. Now it not only is a concert series but a webisode on broadwayworld.com where concert vids and behind-the-scenes videos are played weekly. I'm very proud of it and hope when I'm off tour that I can do more to help it thrive.

--
The Broadway touring production of Evita continues at the Paramount through Jan. 5. For more information on tickets and times, see the STG Presents website.

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