Ricky Martin, who debuted on Broadway nearly two decades ago, will be back in the spotlight in a starring role as “Che” in the musical production of “Evita.” Co-star Elena Roger will debut as Eva Peron.
Martin debuted on the Great White Way in 1996 in the cast of the hit musical Les Misérables to play the romantic lead, Marius Pontmercy.
Martin said he was drawn to the role of Che, short for Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, because he “can be so many people at the same time. He’s a chameleon.”
The musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Tim Rice, is based on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón, played by Michael Cerveris. It follows Evita’s early life, rise to power, charity work and death.
Evita first opened at the Prince Edward Theatre on London’s West End in 1978. The following year, the show opened on Broadway and closed in June 1983, after 1,567 performances and 17 previews. The London performance ran until 1986, with 2,900 performances.
Patti LuPone opened the Broadway run, starring as Eva, with Mandy Patinkin as Che.
Martin drew some parallels with his appearance in Les Miserables. “I speak in the name of the people, and in Les Miserables I did the same through the character of Marius; there’s a similarity,” he said at a news conference after the first preview of Evita.
The 40-year-old singer, who rose to prominence with the Latin boy band Menudo in 1991, has had a successful recording career, selling more than 60 million albums worldwide. But he says working on stage has its own rewards.
“I’ve felt emotions onstage that I never felt before, it has strengthened me as a person and as an artist,” he said.
Roger, 37, is from Argentina and previously played Eva in the London revival of Evita six years ago. She’s fully immersed in the part.
“It’s my story; it’s my history; it’s the history of my country; it’s in my blood. When I mention the streets like Rio de la Plata or Nueve de Julio, I have been in those streets since I was born so I know what they look like,” she told Broadway.com.
“When I say Buenos Aires, I know what I am talking about, and I think that was in my eyes. All that emotion was there; that’s why they chose me. I want to give to the American audience the best I can give.”
The musical opens April 5.