"Resident Broadway Star
Will 'Give Back' in Benefit"
- Friday, December 4, 1998
When you're a guy who feels like you've got it all - great
career, lovely wife, two healthy children, and a terrific village
to call home - what do you do next?
For Irvington resident Rob Evan, the answer is obvious: give
Evan, 30, is the star of Broadway's "Jekyll and
Hyde" and a former star of "Les Miserables." He
and his wife, Norwegian native Beate Gran, moved to Irvington
from New York City two years ago and have been much taken with
the place. "We love it here," Evan said last Friday,
speaking for Gran and their sons - Johan, 3, and Max, 2 months.
This Sunday, Evan and friends are renting out the Irvington
Town Hall Theater for the "2nd Annual Broadway Holiday
Concert," charity benefit. Evan regularly supports Broadway
Cares: Equity Fights AIDS and leukemia-related causes. Proceeds
from this concert will go to the Jane Elissa/Charlotte Meyers
Fund for Leukemia Research, an endowment named for a friend of
Evan's and her mother, who has been fighting the disease.
Evan said the "1st Annual Broadway Holiday Concert"
was almost an impromptu affair. "We did not get the word out
as much" as this year, he said.
Sunday's concert, which was almost sold out last weekend, will
again be a series of mostly current Braodway songs sung by
performers now or previously in the show of origin. "These
are really just people I can pick up the phone and call," he
said. "The talent we're going to have up there is amazing.
And all these people are not only great talents but also really
nice people. We try to make a little money for things we believe
The lineup includes Christiane Noll, his co-star in
"Jekyll and Hyde," who also formerly starred in
"The King and I" and does the voice of Anna in the
upcoming animated feature of the musical; Brian D'Arcy James, a
star of the original cast of "Titanic," whom Evan met
when they were both in "Les Miserables"; Sean
McDermitt, one of the original Chris's in "Miss Saigon";
Robert Longo, who played Javert to Evan's Jean Valjean in
"Les Miserables," and Rita Harvey, who has played
Christine in "Phantom of the Opera."
Hastings performing arts teacher Mark Ruhala, whom Evan
doesn't know but who is a friend of his co-producer and musical
director Neil Berg, will perform a song-and-dance number from
Berg's original musical "The Prince and the Pauper."
One of Ruhala's students, 14-year-old Elizabeth Schwartz of
Riverdale, will perform "Over the Rainbow" from
"The Wizard of Oz."
Evan said he will emcee and do a lot of the singing.
Given that Town Hall Theater's limited size, Evan said he'll
be thrilled if the evening net's $5,000, whereas he recently
raised $5,000 himself as part of a larger benefit at Manhattan's
Marriot Marquis where he auctioned off "Jekyll and
Hyde" tickets and some off-stage time with the star.
But the chance to perform on a smaller stage, with only a
piano, bass, and drums rather than a full orchestra, is a fun
one, he said. Also, "I want to invite people in the
community to see what I do."
Publicity for the concert is being handled by the officers of
his fan club, some of whom will be coming to the concert from as
far as Philadelphia. "It's weird because you wonder why
there's a fan club for you," he said. "What did I do to
deserve this?" (The club maintains a web site at www.rob-evan.com.) "It's
totally their thing," he said.
Evan didn't always have his sights set on the stage. He's
originally from Atlanta, Ga., although after nearly eight years in
New York he has little trace of his accent. "I never
expected to find myself in the arts," he said. "I'm
basically an ex-collegiate football player from the University of
After college, he was thinking about law school, but also had
this love of theater that he thought he'd best get out of his
system. One of the first show-business jobs he landed was a
six-month stint as the entertainment on a Norwegian cruise line
ship, where the woman who was to become his wife was a
stewardess. After that, he said, "I moved to New York and
three months later I was in 'Les Miz,'" where he gradually
worked his way up from a small role to the lead.
Evan and Gran had settled in Greenwich Village, but after
Johan was born, staying there was not an option. "We had
friends - other performers - who lived in Dobbs Ferry and said we
would really love Irvington," he explained. And they do.
"I love the fact that it's got very much of a community
feeling. That's how I was raised; I'm from small-town U.S.A."
As for Gran, "My wife thought she'd never be able to stay in
New York," he said. But Irvington "reminds her so much
of Norway. She almost gets the feeling, looking over the Hudson,
of the fjords of the North Atlantic. It's so beautiful up
They are renting a house in the village while looking for one
Since they moved to New York, "I haven't stopped working
and every job gets better and better. And we have two healthy
"We've been so lucky," he said. "You have to be
thankful for what you have."
Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert are $25, $20 for seniors and
students. Call 591-6602 for ticket information.
- Jennifer Stern