Sean-MacLaughlin-Evita Broadway’s Sean MacLaughlin has been touring the country as Juan Perón in the First National Tour of Evita, now about to thrill Orange County audiences at the Segerstrom Center For The Arts (in addition to Angelinos who may have missed its earlier L.A. run…or want to come back for more). Sean took time out of his busy performance schedule to sit down and chat a bit about the production, his role in it, and his career. (Check Sean’s bio at the end of this interview for his impressive list of credits.)

Hi Sean. Having played Raoul in Phantom Of The Opera on Broadway as well as across the U.S. and Canada, and now touring the country as Evita’s Juan Perón, you have quite a history with Andrew Lloyd Webber!

Yes, Sir Webber has been very good to me.

How does it feel being back in a Lloyd Webber show?

It truly feels spectacular being back in another one of his shows. I grew up on his music and have always been a huge fan, so to be able to perform in another classic Webber piece is quite an honor. I’m proud that a majority of my Broadway and touring career has been performing his work.

Sean-MacLaughlin-as-Peron-in-Evita-Broadway-Chicago seanmclaughlin200
Sean as Perón and as Raoul

How does the role of Perón compare with Raoul?

To go from Phantom to Evita is quite a shift, but a glorious shift nonetheless. Perón is a lot more complex than Raoul. Perón has experienced so much more in his life rather than the playboy life of Raoul. There’s so much to discover with his character and I’m still finding new things as we tour around.

Are there any other ALW roles you’d love to play in the future?

Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard would be a great start.

You’ve starred on Broadway and in major National Tours. How would you compare those two experiences?

Performing-wise, Broadway and touring are very much alike. We’re in large-scale venues across the country that rival the biggest New York stages. The biggest difference is the concentration of audience rather than the regional mix that one would find in the New York audience. Touring around truly does keep the show fresh. It’s like hitting a reset button with every new city. We have an opening night in every city.

What do you most enjoy about touring?

Besides performing this show in different cities, the thing I enjoy most about touring is being able to live in different areas across the country and experiencing life as a local in each city. Also, feeling out the audiences in every city is a wonderful challenge.

Is there anything about touring that you don’t particularly take to?

I don’t think there’s anything yet that I’ve found that I don’t particularly take to. I love to travel, so when you add performing to travelling, hey, I’m in heaven!

Juan-and-Evita-Peron I’ve seen quite a few regional productions of Evita. (Haven’t we all!) What is it about the recent Broadway revival that sets it apart from the multitude of Evitas that have preceded it, whether in look or performance or anything else that would make this particular production a must-see?

This production is a beautiful marriage of dance, acting and singing celebrating Webber and Rice’s classic piece. It’s fresh, gritty, dark and real. Michael Grandage’s direction in conjunction with Rob Ashford’s choreography create an Evita that gives the audience an authentic flavor of the time and people. Every character has such depth all the way down throughout the ensemble. When I first saw this production, I was breathless. This is a must-see for Evita fans, and a must-not-miss for people who have never seen this classic Webber musical. Plus the cast is top notch. Caroline Bowman and Josh Young give incredible performances that everyone should see.

I’m curious about the rehearsal process of a First National Tour. Where do you rehearse and for how long before your first Opening Night, and how closely did the original Broadway creative team work with you??

We rehearsed in New York for about three weeks. Seth Sklar-Heyn and Chris Bailey were the tour director and choreographer. Kristen Blodgette and William Waldrop were musical supervisor and musical director. All worked on the original Broadway production and set the show in the same vein, so the Broadway team worked very closely with us. Seth knew what Michael wanted thematically, but allowed us to find our own characters while we were discovering the show. We teched the show in Rhode Island for a week before opening the production there in the glorious space that it is.

Sean-MacLaughlin-and-Caroline-Bowman-in-Evita You seem quite a different “type” from Michael Cerveris, who originated Perón in the recent Evita revival, which makes me wonder: Were you encouraged to play your role as it was on Broadway or are you given freedom to create your own character?

For my character, I was given the freedom of my choices, but was also guided in the right direction to keep in the theme set by Michael. Seth was very giving and very laid back. He and the full creative team made the rehearsal process such a joy to be a part of. There was no cookie-cutter setting for repeating a performance, which has made this First National Tour very fresh. Michael Grandage came out when we played Chicago and was very pleased with the show.

I see Starbuck on your resume, but not in 110 In The Shade! How does doing a straight play like The Rainmaker compare with being in a musical?

I’ve always thought musicals create an added bonus of being able to express emotion in one’s character. It’s like walking down the street carrying whatever emotion you have from that day and all of a sudden you add your headphones, pop in a good playlist and you have a soundtrack to your day that heightens your mood. It’s a bit harder in musicals sometimes to be able to take a beat like in a straight show because the beats are already written out for you in the music. I feel that musicals are more of a challenge because you have so much more work to do on top of building your character.

Any preference for one over the other?

I don’t necessarily have a preference of one over the other because I would love to perform in more straight plays, but musicals have always been my favorite challenge.

If you could pick one show to do once you’ve moved on from playing Perón, which show would that be and which role would you be playing?

There are many shows that I have on my list, but one that keeps coming up that I’m dying to perform is Billy Bigelow in Carousel. Recently having a son, I’ve learned so much about myself and the power of what you will do for your family. I’ve grown fascinated by this story of redemption from past mistakes. I figure that would be a great transition from Perón!

Carousel is one of my favorite musicals, and I would love to see you as Billy!  In the meantime, thanks so much for this chat! Now I truly cannot wait for Opening Night.

SEAN MacLAUGHLIN (Perón) Was last seen on Broadway, US and Canada as Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera. Other Broadway Credits include: Bombay Dreams, the original casts of The Woman In White, and Elton John’s Lestat. Off-Broadway: Tut (NYMF), Requiem for William, The Audience, and Baby: In Concert (Transport Group). Some favorite regional credits include: Camelot (Lancelot), The Rainmaker(Starbuck), The Rink (Dino), Floyd Collins (Homer), Violet (Monty), Kennedy Center’s Sondheim Celebration: Merrily We Roll Along, and many more. Film/TV: Something the Lord Made (HBO), and South Pacific Live from Carnegie Hall (PBS). Equity Member since 1999. For Elaine and Quinn.

Evita photos: Richard Termine
Phantom photo: Cylla von Tiedeman

Click here for tickets to Evita, playing December 10-22 at the Segerstrom Center For The Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.

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