Hickory – LaKeisha Ross-Johnson is excited to be taking on her first directing gig with the blockbuster musical, Evita at the Hickory Community Theatre. The show will run June 10–20 in the Jeffers Theatre.

Ross-Johnson developed her love of music in church at a very early age and pursued her dream of a musical career at Lenoir-Rhyne University. She has performed with the Western Piedmont Symphony and created a soundtrack for Hickory Museum of Art’s digital presentation called “Rhythm & Rights”, and works with 3M Productions in their stage plays. The most enjoyable times in her career were playing the roles of Geneva Lee Brown in 1940s Radio Hour and Sarah in Ragtime.

The other members of the Evita creative team are: John Coffey, Music Director, Anyea Gibson, Choreographer, and Paul Sapp, Stage Manager.

Coffey is a Caldwell County native who served as the Music Director for HCT from 1981 to 1990 and the Executive Director of the Green Room from 1990 to 2000. He was the Music Director for the HCT productions of Les Misérables in 2014 and The Music Man in 2015. He has created several original musicals, including the iconic Streets of Hickory and We Are the People, Too.

Gibson is a fifth-grade teacher at Viewmont Elementary School and a teacher of dance at Ann Freeman Dance Academy. She was named Teacher of the Year by Hickory Public Schools in June 2020. Gibson graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne University in 2008 with a degree in Elementary Education and from Appalachian State University in 2012 with a master’s in Elementary Education.

Sapp is a recent “transplant” to Hickory, having relocated from Durham two years ago. Since arriving he’s immersed himself in local theatre, with roles in The Tempest and The Importance of Being Earnest at Lenoir-Rhyne University and Love’s Labour’s Lost at The Green Room. Since coming to HCT he’s served as Stage Manager for American Buffalo and Jungle Fun Room.

Argentina’s controversial First Lady is the subject of this dynamic musical masterpiece. Eva Perón, saint to the working class, reviled by the aristocracy and mistrusted by the military, was destined to leave a fascinating political legacy unique in the 20th century. As a fifteen-year-old illegitimate child, Eva escaped her dirt-poor existence for the bright lights of Buenos Aires. Driven by ambition and blessed with charisma, she was a starlet at twenty-two, the president’s mistress at twenty-four, First Lady at twenty-seven, and dead at thirty-three. Told through a compelling score that fuses haunting chorales with exuberant Latin, pop, and jazz influences, Evita creates an arresting theatrical portrait as complex as the woman herself.

Performances of Evita are Thursdays through Saturdays, June 10, 11, 12, 17, 18 & 19 at 7:30 pm and Sundays, June 13 & 20 at 2:30 pm.

Tickets for all seats are $18 per person and may be purchased online at hickorytheatre.org or by calling the box office at 828-328-2283 between 12 pm and 5 pm, Wed–Fri. Seating is limited in compliance with the governor’s executive order, so advance purchase is strongly recommended. Per the executive order, patrons must wear face coverings at all times while in the building.

PHOTO: (L-R) Paul Sapp, Anyea Gibson, John Coffey and LaKeisha Ross-Johnson. Photo by Eric Seale.