Rev. Edward Danylo Evanko
Father Edward D. Evanko brings his one-man production of Aldyth Morris’s Damien to Neumann University for a free performance on October 27 at 1:30 p.m. in the Life Center. Damien is the story of a Catholic missionary priest from Belgium who went to Hawaii to care for the lepers, labored among these outcasts for 16 years and contracted the disease himself. He was canonized as Saint Damien of Molokai last year by Pope Benedict XVI.
The award-winning play is a monologue delivered by Damien as a spirit describing the progress of his own funeral procession. As Damien comments on his last and final journey back to his homeland, he reminisces about his childhood, his ministry in the quarantined leper colony, and his oft-tested faith in God and humanity.
A Booklist review calls Damien a play that “evokes the strength and spirituality of this complex man of God whose life of service was assailed by contemporary detractors and his own inherently self-doubting nature.”
Edward Evanko, who plays Damien in the 80-minute production, was a rising musical theater leading man in the 1970s, whose very first Broadway role (playing opposite Sandy Duncan in Canterbury Tales) landed him the coveted Theater World Award. He went on to win top-billed roles in Rex (with Nicol Williamson), Sweeney Todd (with Jean Stapleton), A Little Night Music (with Jean Simmons),and Damn Yankees (with Robert Morse). He starred as Candide with the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, and then secured a recurring role in TV’s Ryan’s Hope. Film and television work followed with appearances on Third Rock from the Sun, Chicago Hope, The Outer Limits and a number of feature films.
Then, in his sixties and after a successful career in show business, Evanko heard a different call and entered the seminary. He was ordained a Ukrainian Catholic priest in 2005, upon completion of his master’s degree in theology. After ministry as a travelling priest in rural Manitoba, Father Edward is now pastor of Holy Dormition of the Mother of God Church in Richmond, British Columbia. His “call within a call” came about when he realized that he could bring God’s word to the people through his own theatrical heritage.
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