Jessica Lynch has been cast as Eva Peron in Archbishop Stepinac’s “Evita,” opening April 26.
Stepinac’s producer Keith Sunderland got in touch this morning to update me on the all-boys Catholic high school’s search for a new Eva Peron for its production of “Evita.”
After Friday’s auditions to replace Harrison’s Halle Mastroberardino (who left the production, citing a need for vocal rest), director Frank Portanova selected Briarcliff’s Jessica Lynch to fill the considerable shoes of the first lady of Argentina.
Lynch is a four-year theater kid from Ian Driver’s excellent program. She was Zaneeta Shinn in “The Music Man” earlier this month and played the Marilyn Monroe role in Briarcliff’s production of “Sugar,” the musical based on “Some Like It Hot.” (See her in Running Lines videos here and here.)
I remember interviewing Lynch as a freshman, when she was in “The Miracle Worker” at Briarcliff. She has always struck me as thoughtful actress and should be a great addition to “Evita.” She also has studied under Carol Arrucci, a go-to musical director who runs the Cortlandt School of Performing Arts in Croton.
Stepinac recruits actresses from across the gegion to fill its award-winning musicals. Last year, the White Plains all-boys Catholic high school took home the top honors at the Metropolitan High School Theater Awards, for its production of “Phantom of the Opera.”
Lynch have to work fast: “Evita” opens April 26 for a two-weekend run.
I managed to get Jessica on the phone, before she headed off to rehearsal, and she told me that she had thought of auditioning for the role when auditions were held, but when she learned it would conflict with Briarcliff’s “Music Man,” she decided not to try out.
She didn’t decide to audition until after school on Friday, the day of the tryouts. Once there, she was one of about 15 girls trying for the coveted role. After learning some of the songs with musical director Chloe Sasson, the girls took to the stage and all auditioned together, with the other girls watching.
“We sang from 3:30 to about 8 at night,” she says.
The process was different from that used by Driver, who typically holds private one-on-one auditions. But the difference apparently wasn’t too unsettling for the Briarcliff senior.
“It’s cool to see everyone. It’s kind of interesting. You have the time to consider other interpretations and to appreciate what other singers do,” she says.
In addition to her Briarcliff roles, Lynch has played many roles with Helen Hayes Youth Theater, in productions of “Spring Awakening,” “The Wedding Singer,” “Guys and Dolls” and “13: The Musical.”
With just over a month to prepare, Lynch knows the learning curve is steep, but she’s excited.
“I like it,” she says. “I feel like I’m really challenged. It’s interesting researching the life of Eva Peron.”