Naomi Serrano Graduates Early and Joins the Cast of Evita


Maria Baranova, American Repertory Theater

Naomi Serrano rehearsing for her upcoming show.

For some students at Cherokee High School, working in professional theater is a dream come true. For former Cherokee student Naomi Serrano, that dream has become a reality and cut her senior year short. On Feb. 16, Serrano left Cherokee for the last time and joined the American Repertory Theater’s production of Evita. 

The Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Evita is the story of the life of Eva Perón, the wife of the president of Argentina from 1946 -1952. Naomi Serrano plays the role of Juan Perón’s mistress and is also a part of the ensemble. 

Serrano was in the car with her brother when she got the call telling her she would be the mistress in Evita. She said she was extremely excited and “called my parents and we were all crying of excitement! I also told a few of my friends at lunch (it was a half day so we went out) and they were so proud and excited for me! It was just full of joy.”

During the audition process, Serrano’s audition tape was sent to Andrew Lloyd Webber and his team known as “The Really Useful Group” which helps cast the principal roles in large productions of the shows he created. Since Serrano now has the role, it has been said that in a way she was selected by Andrew Lloyd Webber himself. 

Naomi Serrano left Cherokee in February and immediately began transitioning into her life as a working actress. She  completed her high school education online, which she found to be a somewhat isolating process compared to school life in person. By April, she received her Cherokee diploma and officially became a Cherokee graduate. On April 3 she moved into an apartment in New York City that was provided by her theater company. 

Although the change was exciting, Serrano was understandably nervous, because she “had just turned 18 two weeks prior to my moving day, not even graduated from high school technically. Granted, I was extremely excited (as living in New York City has been a childhood dream) but it was scary. I mean it’s New York City, it’s the real world and I’m in this huge production with performers who have done real Broadway performances.” She credits her director, Sammi Cannold for making her transition smooth and welcoming her into the new life that she lives now. 

The cast and creative team on this production of Evita are extremely well-experienced in their craft. Many of the people Serrano is sharing the stage and working with have not only been on Broadway but are also Tony-nominated and winning individuals. Although working with them was initially intimidating, Serrano found that everyone was welcoming and professional, and has found that “since the start of rehearsals, we’ve all grown to be a family and support one another no matter what.”

Rehearsals for Evita took place every day of the week with the expectation of Sundays at New 42nd Street Studios in New York City and lasted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a one-hour break for lunch. Although the hours were plentiful, Serrano and the cast saw “the positive in everything and manage to make everything fun.”

All in all, Serrano does not regret any of her decision to leave early, even though cutting her senior year was bittersweet. She has found watching the “wonderfully detailed production” come together extremely exciting, and she has been able to connect on an artistic and personal level with the people around her. “Just about everyone in the cast is Latinx,” she added, “so we’ve all been able to connect with one another culturally through dancing and food.” 

“It’s possible to make dreams a reality,” Serrano goes on to explain, “but it is not easy. What I am currently doing is a dream come true for me, but the journey was far greater than I could’ve possibly imagined. There is a ton of sacrifice. Granted, these sacrifices were something that I was willing to make, but in no way was it easy.” 

“If you’re willing to put in the overload amount of practicing and the heartache that comes with it, then it is very much worth it all when that dream becomes a reality.  It sounds cliche, but if you keep working hard, then these things can actually become a reality. For the few yeses I have received along the way, there were way more noes in between.”

She ends it with, “Do not let anyone tell you, ‘You don’t reach the bar of talent.’ Don’t let anyone keep you from giving up on that dream. Let it help make you stronger and help make you go after it more.”

Evita will run in Cambridge, MA from May 17- July 30. It will then move to Washington DC with the Shakespeare Theater Company in the Fall. For tickets and more information about Evita, you can visit their website.