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“The role is a beast. It’s a vocal marathon,” says Maria Eberline, the striking, raven-haired actress from San Diego who is taking on the role of Eva Peron in the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of “Evita.” Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s mostly sung-through story of Peron’s rise to a position of power and influence in Argentina in the 1940s opens The Rep’s 2010-11 season Friday, Sept. 10.

“It’s not just that this role is sung but it’s sung in the rafters,” says Eberline of her part. “She belts E and E flats, notes that only dogs can hear, you know?”

Everything about “Evita” is large-scale, including the cast, which is busting at the seams with 19 adults, nine children and an orchestra with nine members. That isn’t unusual for the shows of Lloyd Webber and Rice, who made their mark with the grand spectacles of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.”