The 2017 Tony-winning Best Musical Dear Evan Hansen is about to hit the road on its first national tour. Starting in Denver September 25, the tour marks the first time the show has been mounted with an entirely new cast.
“When we were developing the show, the characters and the actors became synonymous because we developed it over these many years with these actors,” Tony-winning songwriter Benj Pasek told Playbill when Dear Evan Hansen met the press. The new actors “bring their unique perspectives, their own life stories—it made the show feel like something I hadn’t seen before.”
The cast—whose level of talent Tony-winning songwriter Justin Paul can only call “absurd”—features Ben Levi Ross as Evan Hansen, Jessica Phillips as his mom Heidi, Maggie McKenna as Zoe Murphy, Marrick Smith as Connor Murphy, Aaron Lazar as Larry Murphy, Christiane Noll as Cynthia Murphy, Phoebe Koyabe as Alana Beck, and Jared Goldsmith as Jared Kleinman.
The company also includes Evan alternate Stephen Christopher Anthony as well as covers Ciara Alyse Harris, John Hemphill, Noah Kieserman, Jane Pfitsch, Coleen Sexton, and Maria Wirries.
Tony-nominated director Michael Greif encouraged all of the artists to bring their own nuances to the performance of these characters. “I found different physicality than other people. It’s definitely very flicky and kind of dabby,” said Ross with a laugh. “These are terms I learned in college.”
Personal experience impacts their portrayals, as well. Lazar, Noll, and Phillips, who all have kids, play parents who learn what it is to truly know your own child. “I’d like to say I could have played this part before I was a father,” Lazar paused, “[but] it’s better now.”
No matter the interpretation of the role, the cast is confident this story that has resonated with so many Broadway audiences will continue to affect people across the nation. “When it’s really well written—and this is such an incredibly well-written piece—as an actor you’re liberated because there’s no pressure on us as actors to make it work,” Lazar added.
“Because it’s incredible and [librettist] Steven Levenson is a genius,” added Ross. “He’s modern-day Chekhov!”
Watch the video above to hear more from the full cast and creative team.