Juan, Singular Sensation: A Tour of Michael Cerveris' Peronist History Archive, Backstage at Evita

By Michael T. Luongo
13 Jan 2013

Cerveris holds the Red Book of Peron, which contains political and inspirational sayings of Juan Peron.
Photo by Michae Luongo
Unusual also was the Latin sensibility the musical had through Roger and Martin, which Cerveris says "opened the doors to a Spanish-speaking audience that doesn't always find its stories and its culture and its life represented in the heart of commercial theatre." He says he hopes the doors stay open, flooding Broadway with new stories.

The question, as they ask in Evita, is, "So what happens now?"

With a melodic laugh, Cerveris offers the show's response: "Don't ask anymore…"

But, really? "The one thing I know I am doing that I know is ongoing I have these shows at 54 Below" with his band Loose Cattle. He adds, "January is really kind of closing the book on things that have been part of my life for years," mentioning TV's "Treme" and "Fringe," the latter a show he particularly liked working on, with his role, September, "a character that will be a part of the sci-fi mythology and iconography." Yet he added, "at the end of the day, I think I am first and foremost a stage creature, and I will never stray too far from that."



My final question relates to the legacy of his work as Peron. Historically, those who play Peron have been overshadowed by their counterparts. Many forget Bob Gunton who originated Peron working with Broadway legends Patti LuPone as Evita and Mandy Patinkin as Che. Jonathan Pryce is perhaps better remembered alongside Madonna's Evita and Antonio Banderas' Che. Will Michael Cerveris' Peron be the most-remembered American version?

He says reflectively, "that would be nice, if that turns out to be true," but he credits any success "to a lot of factors, chiefly Michael Grandage's vision for the production — one where that relationship between Juan and Eva was vital. And the show is built, in our production, around the three, Juan Peron, Che and Eva. So I had a director who wanted me, wanted my character to stand toe to toe with the other two and invited me to be part of it to fulfill that, and I have tried to do my best to do that."

*

Read travel writer (and Evita maven) Michael Luongo's earlier Playbill.com feature about the real-life people and locations mentioned in the hit musical Evita.

Here's his report about a New York City exhibit of Eva Peron's gowns and personal effects