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MusicalFare takes on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s toughest musical, ‘Evita’

At 7 p.m. July 6, MusicalFare Theatre (4380 Main St.) will take a crack at telling an embellished tale of a populist political upheaval and the controversial figures who led it.

We’re not talking about America or Britain in 2016, but Argentina in the 1940s and ’50s, a time when working-class Argentinians were growing frustrated to the point of violence with the policies and attitudes of the ruling class. The figure the public latched onto was Eva Perón, whose meteoric rise to power alongside her husband, Juan Perón, inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1978 musical “Evita.”

MusicalFare’s production, directed by the company’s founder and artistic/executive director Randall Kramer, stars Michele Marie Roberts in the challenging lead role made famous by Patti LuPone. She is joined by Marc Sacco as the narrator character modeled after Che Guevara, John Fredo as Juan Perón and a diverse ensemble.

Webber’s score for “Evita” is one of his most inventive, but also his most challenging. That’s especially true for the title role, which has proven difficult even for seasoned pros at the top of their craft. LuPone, outspoken in the best of times, has famously accused Webber of “hating women” because his score is so savage on performers’ vocal chords.

If any Buffalo singer can pull off the challenge, though, it is Roberts. She has proved her mettle with tough material in everything from Visit Buffalo Niagara’s remix of “Let it Go” shot during the 2014 November storm to a recent production of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” for the Irish Classical Theatre Company.

“As an actress, it’s a role that is an honor to play. These kind of parts don’t come along very often,” Benzin said. “Vocally speaking it’s definitely singing gymnastics, but thanks to Sour Patch Kids, copious amounts of water and some vocal rest, which is near impossible with two kids and a full-time job, my voice is handling the double back flips, layouts and roundoffs pretty well.”

The production runs through Aug. 7. Tickets are 839-8540, with more information at 839-8540 or musicalfare.com.

– Colin Dabkowski