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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 20 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 51
Josh Young: An Interview with 'Che' from Evita
Arts & Entertainment
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Josh Young: An Interview with 'Che' from Evita

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

EVITA
PARAMOUNT THEATRE
December 31, 2013 - January 5, 2014


The Paramount Theatre will be presenting the smash musical Evita. This controversial 'Pop-Opera' is based on the life of the First Lady of Argentina, and her husband, the dictator Juan Perón. At the helm of this production is Joshua Young playing the unofficial narrator of the musical, 'Che.' The Seattle Gay News caught up with this high-powered, talented individual: Eric

Andrews-Katz: Who were your earliest influences in becoming a performer? Joshua

Young: As a singer, it was Michael Jackson and Placido Domingo. I know they are so very different, but it works for what I'm doing now, legit musicals and rock musicals. They've influenced me with their versatility. In terms of my acting, my favorite actor is Mandy Patinkin. It's ironic, because he originated this role, and I'm sure people will draw parallels, but I don't mind, because he is amazing! I try to emulate his career as well.

Andrews-Katz: What was your first professional audition like and for what show?

Young: The first Equity Theater I auditioned for was Media Theatre in Pennsylvania. I was still in high school and I auditioned for Rolf in The Sound of Music. I remember that I was devastated that I didn't get the part. I was also 60 pounds overweight then, but I was still crushed. I didn't have another audition in Equity Theater until 2002, when I was in school at Syracuse University. There's a theater associated called Syracuse Stage. I was 22 years old and got the role of The Artful Dodger in Oliver! I looked young being real skinny and had curly hair. I was passing for 15.

Andrews-Katz: What kind of before or after show rituals do you have?

Young: Three hours before I have a production I play a warm up tape that my teacher in New York City gave me. I warm up doing scales and vocal exercises that she recorded. That's pretty much it, as I don't have any superstitious rituals before or after. I try to do physical exercise every morning, and that seems to help.

Andrews-Katz: You played Judas Iscariot on Broadway. What was your experience like in Jesus Christ Superstar?

Young: That production originated while I was working in 2011 at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival doing Evita. The Shakespeare Festival announced they were doing Jesus Christ Superstar the next year. I asked the director if they would see me for Judas. I auditioned and got cast. Fast forward a year and we're at Opening Night. Tim Rice [lyricist for the J.C.S.] was in the audience and that was a huge deal for me! It was fully unexpected. He loved it so much that he contacted Andrew Lloyd Webber [composer of J.C.S.] and he came the following week. It snowballed from there with us going to Broadway. It was quite a ride. Opening on Broadway was rough for me, though; I had bronchitis the week before and the week following Opening Night. Overall it was a great journey and I love the show.

Andrews-Katz: You've worked with the director John Doyle, in Kiss Me, Kate. What was it like to work with this distinctively styled director, and what instrument did you play?

Young: There were no instruments in this show [played by the actors on stage]. He didn't pull out any of those tricks. He just did Passion, Off-Broadway in NYC, and didn't use instruments either, so I think it's something he tried and it worked. I saw the video of Company [where the actors played the instruments], but other than that, I don't know. This was a very straight forward production of Kiss Me, Kate.

Andrews-Katz: How did you audition for the role of Che in Evita?

Young: I actually didn't. The producer Hal Luftig saw me do it at the Shakespeare Festival. I was on Broadway doing Judas while Ricky Martin was in the revival cast of Evita. I think all the producers of the show came and saw me. That's how I got the offer for this production.

Andrews-Katz: Did you do any kind of research for your role as Che?

Young: I did when I first did the role. I did tons of research [and] was kind of an expert on Che Guevara. I don't play 'Che Guevara.' My character, Che, is just a working class citizen in Argentina at the time. I've done character work and get to make up whom this character is, since he's not the actual historical figure. I've decided he works in a leather factory.

Andrews-Katz: Why do you think the iconic name of 'Che' was used as a protagonist for the show?

Young: 'Che' in Spanish means, 'Hey, Buddy,' or as we'd say, 'Hey, Man;' it's a casual greeting. Ernesto Guevara used to call everyone 'Che.' When this production originated in the late '70s, it was Hal Prince's idea to name him 'Che.' He is the average working class Argentine citizen, and faces the effects of the Perónist Government.

Andrews-Katz: Do you think the Perónist government helped or hindered the Argentine people?

Young: I guess I'd have to say Evita helped the people. Elena Rogers [the first Argentine woman to actually play the role on Broadway] tells a story about how the Eva Perón Foundation helped her. Without the Foundation, she would never have been able to play the role. Her family was lower class citizens at that time. Because of a grant from the Foundation, they were able to open a store and become more middle class. Eventually, that helped to bring her to London where she auditioned for the role of Eva. It benefited her family for at least another generation, and I think it did a lot for other Argentinians as well in much the same way.

Andrews-Katz: What similarities and differences do the stage and movie productions share?

Young: We've added the song 'You Must Love Me' to our production. It's directly from the movie.

Andrews-Katz: Regardless of gender or any limitations, what role would you like to play?

Young: Billy Bigalow. Not that exciting, I know, but I always wanted to play that part. It's kind of a controversial role because there is the issue of spousal abuse. I want to tackle it and get into the mind of that character. There are many companies that won't put on the musical [Carousel] because of that, but look at Shakespeare; there are worse things there. I'd really love to play that part and learn how people look past that issue.

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote the musical Evita. The team previously wrote Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Called a 'Pop-Opera' because of the modernization of the musical genre, the story tells of the life of Evita Duarte de Perón, the controversial First Lady of Argentina.

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