USD Theatre opens season with iconic rock opera ‘Evita’

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota Department of Theatre presents Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical “Evita,” Oct. 20-24 in the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre of the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts. 

Based on events in the life of Argentina’s controversial Eva Peron, played by Maggie Conley of Des Moines, Iowa, “Evita” begins with the mysterious and omnipresent narrator Che Guevera, portrayed by Chris Johnson of Crown Point, Ind., in a cinema in 1952 where it’s announced that the first lady has died of cancer at the age of 33. Che then takes us back in time to 1934, where we see how Eva escapes her rural hometown of Junín with tango singer Agustin Magaldi, played by Nick Block of Sioux Falls, S.D., for the big city lights of Buenos Aires.

Eva uses her beauty, charm and cunning to become a model,film actress and eventual consort to Col. Juan Peron, played by Tyler Hudson of South Sioux City, Neb. Eva overcomes and dismisses Peron’s former mistress (Brianna Wetrosky of Brandon, S.D.) and marries the fast-rising general, who leads a social revolution and is elected president of Argentina. With the charismatic and persuasive Eva at his side, Peron enacts an agenda of social change in an effort to better the lives of Argentina’s disenfranchised, the “descamisados” or shirtless ones.

Eva worked tirelessly on issues of women’s suffrage, affordable housing, school food programs, medical care for the poor, and wage equity—causes which helped her to become the most celebrated and powerful woman in South America. Factions within the military and middle and upper classes, however, saw her as an uneducated, ambitious woman, meddling in affairs of state. Despite the controversy, Eva maintained the loyalty of the masses ensuring that her legacy would live for generations.

With the action played almost entirely through song, “Evita” has earned its place as one of the most celebrated musicals of all time and boasts an array of memorable musical numbers, including “On This Night of a Thousand Stars,” “High Flying Adored” and the timeless “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.” “Evita” features four 7:30 p.m. performances, Oct. 20-23, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Oct. 24 in the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre.  Tickets ($14 Adults, $9 K-12 and non-USD students with ID, and $4 USD students with ID) can be reserved Oct. 13 by calling the USD Theatre Box Office at (605) 677-5400 or online at