Upon the recent release of an original cast album for The Evolution of Mann (now available from Yellow Sound Label), the show's stars Max Crumm (Grease, Disaster!), Allie Trimm (13: The Musical, Bye Bye Birdie), and Leslie Hiatt (A Christmas Carol, All Shook Up) shared their thoughts and memories of the score, from onstage giggles to the near-impossible quick changes.
The Evolution of a Mann follows Henry and his lesbian roommate, who, after receiving an invitation to his ex's wedding, embark on a quest to find Henry’s soulmate, his perfect date. Directed by Joe Barros (Bastard Jones) and produced by Nancy Manocherian’s the cell, the show features music and lyrics by Drama Desk nominee Douglas J. Cohen (Children's Letters to God, The Opposite of Sex), and a book and lyrics by Dan Elish (13: The Musical), with orchestrations by Matt Aument (Sweeney Todd) and musical supervision by Vadim Feichtner (Falsettos).
“The Year of the Weddings”
Max Crumm: Fun fact: Leslie Hiatt is a hilarious scene partner. This song started with her handing me a Pedialyte and off we went!! Also another fun fact: I got to hoist a pulley that lifted a giant pile of letters into the air during this song!
Leslie Hiatt: This song is the set up for the entire show, and I was the first person to sing, and the audience members were four feet from my face at best. So it was kind of nerve-wracking, but also kind of empowering in a weird way. Like the fate of the show rested on my shoulders. Which, of course, is not true at all.
Allie Trimm: I loved listening to Max and Leslie set the show up with this song. I spent most of this song shaking out my nerves and laughing along with the audience. Also prepping for the upcoming 10,000 costume changes. I love the final harmony that Doug Cohen and our stellar MD Vadim Feichtner created on the last “I do!” with a little ode to the classic wedding melody we all know and love.
“She’s My Wife”
MC: Doesn’t every man immediately jump into song when he meets the girl of his dreams?! This song was hilarious and fun to rehearse.
AT: Just pointing out that it is very hard to be frozen onstage with Max Crumm singing around you and repositioning you without laughing.
“The Tale of the Otter”
MC: I love singing in sweet, sweet harmonies with Allie Trimm! This song is so adorable it’s ridiculous.
AT: I loved singing this quirky and whimsical duet with Max. Our props had the lyrics of the poem on it in case I forgot the words. I promise I’m a professional.
MC: This song was one of my favorites to sing! It’s also hilarious. It’s also about a boner.
AT: You guys! This song was so hard not to giggle through. The moment when the audience realizes that, yes, the song is about the struggles of first date nerves, but it is also about a literal boner... it’s just so absurd and funny. Luckily I was staged facing upstage for a while and could steal a smile here and there.
MC: My favorite musical moment of the show to perform was the bridge of this song! I love a breakdown.
LT: I loved singing this song on stage with Allie and Max. This my favorite trio moment, and we made it count every night. This was also my most stressful moment on stage since I had to try to avoid belting right in Allie's face, while trying to help her with her onstage quick change.
AT: I play many characters in the show and oftentimes would transition from one to the next in a matter of seconds. This song was particularly tricky because I switched from Henry’s mom to his ex-fiancée to Christine and finally back to ex fiancée all during the song! Joe Barros did a wonderful job staging it to tell the story while allowing me to swiftly and secretly change costumes. Zoë Allen also designed genius costumes that created theater magic!
“It’s Only a First Date”
AT: When I auditioned for this show, I was so excited to get to work with Dan Elish again, 10 years after playing Patrice in 13 The Musical where Dan wrote the book. Christine (who sings this song) reminds me a bit of what I imagine Patrice would’ve been like once she grew up and started dating. This is a gorgeous song that I think everyone can relate to in terms of keeping your hopes at bay when it comes to falling in love! Also, I’m putting it in my audition book now and forever. It’s also in Max’s book forever.
“What’s the Matter With Henry”
MC: This song was the first time I changed outfits in the show! The ladies had both changed three million times at this point. Also, there used to be a funny little mini-song between Henry and Gwen in the middle of this song that they cut in previews.
AT: Here we finally hear Henry’s mom... ooh boy. I threw a lot of motherly love into those growls. Also, shout out to Zoë for some of most impressive costume changes in the show. The audience would gasp at the switch from mom to Tamar. Magic!
LH: Max and I had to toss a basketball back and forth in this scene, with audience members on all sides. Naturally Max thought it was a great idea to change up his tossing pattern at random. Thankfully, we both have good hand-eye coordination, so we never lost the basketball to an audience member's face. Although I did nearly knock the wind out of our assistant director during rehearsals. Sorry Brian!
“The Right Time to Propose”
MC: I got to mess with Leslie Hobson in this number. I definitely whacked her in the face with a plastic rose too hard once or twice... I’m sorry!
AT: Here is where Tamar’s true colors start to unravel. Max sounds amazing on this track. I wore three different fierce outfits throughout this number to show the passing of time and I definitely stole one of the glamorous robes I wore.
LH: Gwen doesn't even sing in this song, but I loved this song because I got to be a Times Square Chicago pamphlet girl! A long-time dream of mine, no joke! I love the Chicago girls.
MC: Allie never ever stood in the correct light at the beginning of this song and it always made me giggle a bit. I’m sorry for those giggles.
AT: I think this is one of my favorite songs in the show to sing. The melody is just so stunning, and the instrumentation is so pure and warm. I liked getting to explore the hidden sides of Tamar here—this song actually helped me see that Tamar and Christine aren’t so dramatically different after all. They both just want to feel deep and true connection with people they love. And I eventually always found my light! (Maybe.)
“The Green Light”
AT: This was so ridiculous and silly and we took it so seriously as our characters. I think the more seriously we took it, the harder everyone laughed (and cringed.) Leslie and I looked hot in our Gatsby and Daisy outfits... particularly my wig that I sometimes accidentally put on backwards during the quick change.
LH: This song was my favorite time on stage with Allie. I didn't get much time otherwise. She looked beautiful in her beaded dress, and I looked ridiculous in my baby pink suit, and we got to look deep into each other's eyes and pretend to be bad actors. Which Allie was surprisingly good at.
“The Unromantic Things”
MC: I love Leslie Hiatt’s golden folk riff on “wild” and you will too! Her voice is crystal clear, everyone... OK?
AT: I lose myself every time I hear Leslie sing this song. I would just sit upstage and close my eyes and bask in the glory of her voice. My favorite part is how Leslie sings “you never know what tomorrow brings.” It’s just so good.
LT: My favorite song to perform. This song is about everyday life with the person you love. It's my everyday life. Realizing that the small and simple things with the people or person you love end up meaning the most to you when you stop and think about it. There are a million different lyrics to write for this song. This is anyone's song. This is everyone's song. And that's what makes it so special.
“Keeping My Eye on the Ball”
MC: The orchestrations here are sick! I might sound like a broken record at this point but I really loved singing this song every night.
Bonus Track: “It’s Only a First Date”
MC: I stan Allie Trimm and this beautiful freaking song! I am so grateful I got to record a cover version of it, still using the He/Him pronouns in the original.