Dungloe teacher Caitríona Ní Shochlachain will be swapping academics for stardom this week as she plays the leading lady in Evita, a production by the Letterkenny Musical Society at An Grianan Theatre.

Taking on the complex character of Argentina’s First Lady Eva Perón is no mean feat, but Caitríona has truly embraced the role and is ready to shine in this powerful revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera.

Ahead of opening night on Tuesday 26th March, Caitríona tells Donegal Woman what we can expect from the world-famous story:

“It is a legendary show with a powerful story to tell,” she said.

“I’m very excited to bring Eva to Donegal – she is a fantastic character! The show is incredibly complex musically and the challenge is significant, but the entire cast and crew have worked extremely hard to take it to such a high standard.”

Caitríona before her transformation to become Eva Peron

Caitríona Solan as Eva Peron in the LMS production of Evita

The real Eva Peron was a driven, divisive and powerful character who fascinated Caitríona from the very beginning.

Caitríona said: “She is equally revered and hated by history, but behind the public persona there was a young woman fighting a terminal illness with strength and dignity, and if for nothing else she deserves our respect and admiration.

“She was very ambitious and was prepared to do whatever it took to achieve her goals. I admire her determination and her unquestioning loyalty to her beliefs-you aren’t declared “the spiritual leader” of Argentina for nothing!”

Eva Peron

Through all the complexities, Caitríona hopes that she can bring Eva’s true personality to the fore. Audiences can expect to see the character develop as she climbs the social ladder to high society.

“Eva is very complex as a character. She is only 15 in the opening scenes and is quite naive but still there is a manipulative side to her as poor Eoin Callaghan (Magaldi) discovers. As her life unfolds she learns to work the media to appeal to the masses and I believe that she still had the interests of the poor, the descamisados, at heart,” Caitríona said.

“Giles Murray plays the part of Juan Peron and we see a very tender and loving side to her through this relationship.

“I think her realization at the end that she gave her life to the people of Argentina rather than to having her own family is quite poignant and there is a definite element of regret when she sings to the children she never had and realizes that love “cannot be multiplied.

“She achieved so much in the political world but she seems torn as to whether the sacrifices were worth it.”

Caitríona hints that Letterkenny audiences can also look forward to high energy and drama.

“They are in for a treat! Drama, conflict, rousing dance numbers and rebellious anthems contrasted with moments of tenderness, regret, doubt and love.

“Director Maria Rushe has drawn every emotion out of the characters, their relationships and the story. There are even a few wee giggles along the way.  Che is expertly portrayed by Kieran Connor and audiences will rely on him to challenge Eva and her motives.”

And enthralling characters are not the only draw, the music and singing talents are set to whisk us all away to South America for an evening.

“The orchestra under the direction of Mark Bradley is worth coming to hear alone!  They will make you want to salsa the night away one minute and then glide you into a waltz the next,” Caitríona said.

“Magaldi and Che hit some notes most women would struggle with! Wee Eimear singing “Santa Evita” is a stunning moment in the show, while even Eva would get teary-eyed when Jessika/Maeve (the mistress) sing “Another suitcase in another Hall”. Personally my favourite to sing is “You must love me.”

“There are so many really difficult harmonies and lines for the chorus too that ensures everyone has a huge part to play! Hopefully you enjoy the show!”

LMS brings Evita to An Grianan Theatre Letterkenny for five nights, from Tuesday 26th March to Saturday 30th March. Get your tickets now on: www.angrianan.com/event/evita