In casting, it's the talent that matters

As the artistic director of Camelot, I had the privilege of casting the incredibly talented Rebecca K. Campbell in the title role of Evita at Camelot. I also directed the production. As such, I would like to respond to comments made by Bill Varble in his review and by Jim Flint in his letter to the editor in the Ashland Daily Tidings on Oct. 31.

"Evita" has been performed all over the world by women of all nationalities and sizes. And while I don't know Flint, I appreciate Varble's opinions as a reviewer when they are about the production or the talent. In his review of "Evita," he states, "Campbell is an accomplished performer and talented singer who delivers a lovely rendition of the musical's signature number, 'Don't Cry for Me, Argentina.' " He also says, "But while this 'Evita' takes place against a background of politics, it is not about politics. It's about the importance of the stories we tell ourselves." I couldn't agree more.

At Camelot, we cast the best and most talented people available. No one else in this valley could do what Rebecca Campbell is doing on our stage. And allow me to address the "full-figured" comments: Rebecca Campbell is straight out of a Rubens or a Botticelli painting. She is a woman, not a girl. The current production of "Evita" is successful (and has been selling out!) to a large degree because of Rebecca Campbell, not in spite of her.

As a woman who has been in show business since 1969, and as the mother of two daughters, I have seen the toll society can take on women and girls based solely on their appearance. I have always told my daughters that intelligence, perseverance, dedication, discipline, compassion and creativity are what's going to carry you through life — not what you look like.

The unfortunate message being conveyed by Varble and by Flint tells our daughters, our sisters, our mothers and our students: It's not the size of your talent that matters, it's the size of your _______ (fill in the blank).

Rebecca Campbell is a consummate performer. And ultimately, that's what's important.

Livia Genise of Ashland is artistic director of the Camelot Theatre in Talent.

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