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Don’t cry for me, Emma Kingston

  •  Emma Kingston
While the British actress playing Eva Perón in the new production of Evita has a real connection to the role, she also happens to be Jewish. Much like Perón, Emma Kingston chose a career as an actress and her mother grew up in Argentina. In fact, her grandfather lived through the Perón era and has quite a few tales to recount.
by PETER FELDMAN | Oct 19, 2017

Kingston told the SA Jewish Report that Judaism played a meaningful role in her life while growing up in London. She was especially imported to play Evita in this West End and Broadway production on now at the Teatro Montecasino.

It also features Jonathan Roxmouth as Che and Robert Finlayson as Juan Perón. 

Asked how she was going to make the role her own, seeing there have been so many top actresses who've played this iconic part before, she said: "I think when you take on any iconic role it's important not to compare yourself to any of the other amazing actresses who have come before you.

"I did a lot of text work on this role and a lot of research trying to find her exact intentions. I think as long as you play the role with truth, honesty and authenticity, that is how you make a role your own and avoid people comparing you. My mum is also Argentinean and my grandpa lived this story, so having him to talk to about what it was like to be in Buenos Aires, has been a wonderful source of research."

Kingston began singing lessons when she was 11. "I went to Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London and I did a three-year BA degree in Acting/Musical Theatre. It was an incredible three years. In the third year we put on public performances; I had the opportunity to play Clara in 'Light in the Piazza' and worked with the most wonderful creative team. It's an intense three years but I wouldn't have changed it for anything."

Kingston grew up in a Jewish community. She attended Jewish schools growing up and was an integral part of a big Jewish community at home in London. "When I can, I am at home on Friday nights for dinner with my family. We celebrate the holidays. It is a huge part of my identity."

At 16 Kingston got an agent and began auditioning for shows in London. "I realised I was a bit young, so I decided to audition for Drama School to do a degree in acting and musical theatre. A big career highlight was getting to play Vanessa 'In the Heights' and have playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda come and watch our final show. To meet him was a very special moment.

"I also recently did a new production of 'Fiddler on the Roof' at the Chichester Festival Theatre. I was given the opportunity to play Hodel. Getting to explore my heritage and share it with an audience, was very special."

This is Kingston's first trip to South Africa and she is "absolutely loving it". "Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly. I spent the rehearsal weeks in Cape Town and it did not disappoint. It is absolutely beautiful. Can't wait to take the show back there in December."

Asked how she landed the Evita role, she said: "I was in London and I sent a tape of myself performing the material from the show. After a few weeks my agent called with the news. I cried. I then had the amazing opportunity of meeting director Hal Prince and his associate Dan Kutner in New York to discuss the role and the show."

She's had a challenging career but one "unbelievable" experience was performing in another iconic musical, "Les Misėrables".

"Since I was four years old it was my dream show. It was the most wonderful two years being in that building with an amazing company. Going on for Eponine was a life highlight, let alone a career highlight. I used to watch Lea Salonga on the Les Mis’s 10th anniversary concert at the Albert Hall and dreamt of being in that show."

Her advice to young actors wanting to enter a competitive business is: Be yourself, work hard, create your own luck, never wait for an opportunity to arise and create your own opportunities."

Kingston admits she is not good at relaxing. "I'm a complete workaholic. But when I find the time, I love treating myself to a spa a day."

Though her family are not in the arts, they all love theatre. "From an early age I couldn't imagine myself doing anything else. My parents exposed me to a lot of theatre, cast albums and a lot of Barbra Streisand. I knew I needed to be an actor."

 

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