(Above: Evynne Hollens brings some of Broadway’s best songs — and several from a musical she’s writing herself — to the stage of The Shedd)

By Randi Bjornstad

The price of Broadway tickets has skyrocketed beyond the reach of most theatergoers during the past several years, but local singer Evynne Hollens is doing her part to make sure Eugene-area audiences get to hear some of the same musical theater songs that thrill the New York crowds.

Her newest show, called the “Contemporary Songbook Project V,” is just that — the fifth time she has collaborated with executive director Jim Ralph at The Shedd Institute for the Arts, to bring her brand of music to the Jaqua Concert Hall stage.

“I’ve always been passionate about the newest Broadway shows,” says Hollens, who grew up in the Eugene-Springfield area and graduated from Sheldon High School in 2001. “The Shedd is known for its production of music from the Great American Songbook, so I thought it might be a good fit for me to approach them about doing music from contemporary Broadway.”

This year’s show has a bit of a different peg, because it’s based on real events and real historical figures, which also reflects the kind of shows that have become popular recently on Broadway, she said.

That means there will be songs from the wildly popular “Hamilton,” as well as “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” which tells the story of the singer-songwriter’s life and career. The show also includes music from “Come From Away” — the somewhat improbable smash hit based on the true story of hundreds of travelers who became stranded in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, when air travel was shut down after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — plus numbers from “The Greatest Showman” about P.T. Barnum, “Assassins,” “Grey Gardens,” “Fun Home” and “Anastasia.”

Both Evynne and her husband, Peter Hollens, recently  gained some “Broadway cred” of their own, when they appeared in a Broadway Christmas show, “Home for the Holidays,” for several weeks late in 2017.

Peter Hollens, who grew up in Ashland, graduated from the University of Oregon in vocal performance and has made a career of singing, songwriting and musical performance, primarily via an extensive presence on YouTube

“We were invited to participate largely because of our presence on YouTube,” Evynne Hollens said, “but it gave us a little experience of what it’s like to be in that situation.”

That could come in handy sooner rather than later, because Hollens is in the process of writing a musical in collaboration with composer-lyricist Anna Gilbert, who also grew up in Eugene and graduated from Churchill High School in 2001.

In fact, the second half of Hollens’ show at The Shedd includes the “world premiere” performance of five songs from their new bilingual musical, which is titled “Milagro,” which translates to “miracle” in English.

“We met after college, when Anna started co-writing songs with Peter,” Hollens said. “At the time, she was best known for writing country, Christian and folk-pop songs. But one night, I approached her and asked if she would consider writing a musical with me. I explained my idea, and she sat down right away and started playing what I was thinking.”

Even though “Milagro” has been in the works for well over a year, “It’s still in the very early stages,” Evynne Hollens said. “I’m writing the ‘book,’ and Anna’s writing the songs and the lyrics.”

Arrangements for the “Milagro” songs are the work of Nathan Alef, yet another young Eugene-area musician and producer who now lives in Los Angeles.

Like the other musicals represented on this playlist, “Milagro” also is based on real life characters and events. It centers on Monique, a Brazilian-American woman who was living in Guatemala when she gave birth to a daughter at 28 weeks gestation and, fearing that both their lives were in jeopardy, planned their escape to the United States, where they still live in Eugene.

The musical story is narrated by the child, and the real-life girl, Adriana Ripley, herself an accomplished performer, will sing two of the songs from “Milagro” in Hollens’ show at The Shedd.

“It’s a pretty amazing story, and I’ve had it in my brain for quite awhile,” Hollens said. “It’s so exciting to be working on it and to actually know the people whose lives make up the story.”

She describes “Milagro” as a story that includes “love, friendship, betrayal, acceptance, tragedy and survival, ultimately ending with (Adrian’s) own harrowing escape from Guatemala to the United States … (and) filled with salsa, seduction, and the power of miracles while examining today’s vital themes of female empowerment, social justice, and the complexity of family.”

Evynne Hollens’ Contemporary Songbook Project V

When: 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 27; and 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 28 (dinner available at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday before the evening concerts, by reservation)

Where: Jaqua Concert Hall, The Shedd Institute for the Arts, 868 High St., Eugene

Tickets: $28, $24, $18 (youth, group, and package discounts), available at the box office, 541-434-7000, or online at theshedd.org