Don’t cry for me, Argentina!
An impressive Spanish-language version of the musical EVITA was mounted by the Department of Hispanic Studies and the student Hispanic Society in March. The three-night run attracted over 350 audience members and is widely thought to have been the best and most ambitious production in the Department’s renowned forty-year history of staging Spanish plays. The production was generously sponsored by the Herbert Hughes Memorial Trust. The representative of the Trustees, John England commented that: “It came across very clearly as a team effort, illustrated by the way in which the ‘big stars’ helped the youngsters enjoy centre-stage. EVITA is up there with the very best of department productions, and unique in the range of talents it put on show – song, dance, music, acting, as well as all the other components that rely on energy, talent, commitment to bring everything together. Everyone came across as enjoying the moment, and that conveyed itself strongly to the audience.”
EVITA charts the story of Eva Perón, former First Lady of Argentina, from her humble beginnings to her achievement of power and fame as the “spiritual leader of the nation”. The production was student-led, with some staff members also participating. It included a live band. The Head of Hispanic Studies, Rhian Davies, described the show as “amazing”, while Phil Swanson, who played the part of Juan Perón, said: “When the Director and Producer (final-year students Laura Hair and Emily Holland) first suggested doing EVITA, I thought they were crazy. Happily, I was proved very wrong and they managed to pull off something truly exceptional and with notable impact on the public. Moreover, this sort of experience probably does as much, if not more, for students’ personal development than some more official academic initiatives. The students are to be admired for their enthusiasm, dedication and commitment.”
The project was also part of a programme of engagement with local schools. The students regularly produce study packs to complement the Spanish play, and a number of pupils and teachers from schools in Sheffield and beyond attended the performances.
All proceeds from the show went to the Teenage Cancer Trust.