One of Broadway’s most iconic and beloved musicals is back on the Great White Way, and is showcasing the talent of a recent West Hempstead grad.
Evita, which portrays the life of the famous first lady of Argentina Eva Peron is back on Broadway after its original run in 1979. Reprising the role as the alternate Eva Peron on Wednesday evenings and Saturday matinees is Christina DeCicco, an alumni from and an Island Park native.
While attending West Hempstead, DeCicco told Patch she had much school spirit and tried her best at everything she did. It was here that DeCicco realized her talents and star potential as she took part in the school chorus and many of the school plays.
“It was something I found that I was good at, I found performing let me open up and it was something I can excel at,” DeCicco said.
“My teachers helped me realize where my passions lie, because my family wasn’t involved with the arts, but both were very supportive," she added. "I would run into teachers in the area and they gave me confidence to pursue what I wanted to do."
That confidence led DeCicco to try out for the school plays and land the roles of Ellie Greenwich in "Leader of the Pack" in seventh grade, and Junior Golden in "Fiddler on the Roof."
There have been times when DeCicco didn't get the particular role she wanted. For instance, she was cast as a boy in her high school production of "Guys and Dolls," but that did not stop her. She made sure she gave it her all.
“It was my first lesson of when things don’t go your way, sometimes it is for the better," she said. "Anytime there are big challenges I try to overcome them and they make me a better performer, businessperson and individual. It has helped me know how to deal with people."
Prior to Evita, DeCicco built up a long list of experience in acting, including Glinda the Good Witch in the first national tour of "Wicked," Sister Mary Roberts in the original Broadway production of "Sister Act," Cindy Lou in the Off-Broadway production of "The Marvelous Wonderettes," among many others.
Performing on stage with the likes of international superstar Ricky Martin, music and television star Michael Cerveris, and theatre star Max von Essen, DeCicco brings the feel of Buenos Aires into the Marquis Theatre in Times Square.
“This is my 9-to-5 job and every now and then I take a glimpse in the mirror and see the black coat and wig and say, ‘Oh Wow!’ and then it goes back to normal and I go on stage,” she explained about playing Eva in front of 1,500 people each night.
After some vocal and physical warm-ups, DeCicco is ready to go on stage and bring Eva Peron back to life as she sings the iconic ballads “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” and “I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You.”
As she walks out onto a balcony to sing, DeCicco says her first thought is usually, “I hope I don’t fall down the steps," but then she says to herself, "Okay, that is over, now the story takes over and Eva is back.'”
Working with Martin, Cerveris and von Essen can be a little intimidating after you step back and see what all three have done in their careers, she explained. However, she says, they were all welcoming and ready to play during rehearsal.
“Backstage, being myself, I see Ricky Martin and go to him, singing and playing his music. He is very sweet,” she said.
Evita seemed to be a destined role for DeCicco. Throughout her life, she explains, the play and the storyline kept coming up. The movie was released when she was in high school. Wagner College, where she received her acting degree, did a production of the musical. Then, she played Peron’s mistress in the Walnut Street Theatre production in Philadelphia.
“Certain points of my life, this show keeps popping up, so to be part of the whole thing and carry it on my shoulder is one of my favorite parts,” stated DeCicco.
Evita is an interesting piece, because everything is sung through so it all flows; the whole show is amazing, she added.
Getting ready for a Broadway show involves intensive rehearsals -- usually four weeks in the studio, then three weeks of tech, and three weeks of previews -- but for DeCicco, rehearsal for Evita was different.
“It was the first time I was a swing, so I knew I was going to do a lot of observing," she stated. "I had one run-through in the studio and two days of rehearsals in tech." Most of her practice was in front of an audience.
DeCicco didn't just discover her passion on the stage of West Hempstead High School. The teachers, along with her family, gave her the confidence to dream big, reach high and now, she's a shining a star.
You can watch her bring the soul and zest of Buenos Aires and Argentina to New York on Wednesday evenings and Saturday matinees. And from Aug. 11 to Aug. 18, DeCicco will be playing Eva Peron full-time. You can purchase tickets on ticketmaster.com or at the Marquis Theatre Box Office at 1535 Broadway in New York City.