Actor Alex Boniello made his debut in the Deaf West revival of Spring Awakening in 2015 as the voice of Moritz Stiefel, a role that introduced us to his affecting vulnerability and pop-rock vocals. Now, Boniello returns to Broadway as another troubled teenager—this time in the blockbuster phenomenon Dear Evan Hansen.
“It’s very scary, I won’t lie. I’ve never replaced before and certainly not on a scale like this,” Boniello told Playbill before the New Dramatists luncheon May 15, the day of his first performance as the musical’s new Connor Murphy. But the actor places great trust in his co-stars. “Most of my scenes are with Taylor Trensch [who now plays Evan], so I just look at him; he knows what he’s doing, so he will keep me in a contained space.”
Having opened in December of 2016, the musical by Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul is well into its hit run, but Boniello shared insight into how he found his own version of Connor. “It’s weird because you don’t actually get to know who the character is,” said Boniello. “Whenever you see him, he’s an invention of somebody else. It was a lot of watching Taylor and seeing what Taylor’s Evan needs at the moment. I think the character changes a lot depending on who is playing Evan that day. I’ve rehearsed a lot with Michael Lee Brown, who is the alternate Evan who does it twice a week. He might need to be yelled at whereas Taylor might need to be loved a little bit.”