A former Rotorua local is looking forward to coming home to star as the lead role of Eva Peron in the Rotorua Musical Theatre's upcoming production Evita.

Melissa Nicholson will play the role, though had not left the audition feeling super confident, she said.

"It's always scary, no matter how many times you've done an audition."

She said the rehearsals schedule was "pretty full on", currently learning the music and dancing, with movement and placement on stage beginning next week.


"It's coming together quite cohesively."

Mrs Nicholson said she did her first proper show in 2003 when she was 15 for a school production at John Paul College.

The show was Fiddler on the Roof and was what got her into musical theatre, she said.

On the last night of the show, she was quite emotional and Jennifer Minty, the production manager of Evita who was doing her make-up, said to her: "Oh that's it Melissa, you've got the bug now."

Although she grew up in Rotorua, Mrs Nicholson now lives in Tauranga and teaches at Otumoetai College.

She said musical theatre had always been a form of escapism for her.

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"It nourishes my soul."

She did ballet for 18 years, and speech and drama throughout school.

Mrs Nicholson said she did not start getting professional vocal coaching until she was about 20. She loved the rehearsals, seeing and feeling everything come together, and being able to make others happy, she said.

"We all do it because we love it."

She was very lucky with the Evita show that Eva Peron was a real person, so there was a lot online she could read and watch to learn her mannerisms and history, Mrs Nicholson said.

She had wrestled with whether to audition for the show because she did not live here, but she researched, found Eva Peron fascinating and "thought what a cool story to tell".

She said it had also been quite a group effort, learning together as they went.

There was a huge amount of talent in the cast and they had all gelled easily, she said.

Mrs Nicholson said everyone worked hard and it was going to be an enormous, spectacular production by the time July rolled around.


* What: The Rotorua Musical Theatre's production of Evita

* When: Friday, July 29 to Saturday, August 13

* Where: Civic Theatre at the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre

* Tickets: Can be bought from the Ticketmaster box office inside the foyer of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre or online at www.ticketmaster.co.nz