Interview: New 'Evan Hansen' Anthony Norman Talks DEAR EVAN HANSEN National Tour, How He's Approaching the Role & More

BroadwayWorld spoke with Anthony Norman about his audition for 'Evan', how he's prepared to take on the role, and more. 

By: Jun. 21, 2022
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Interview: New 'Evan Hansen' Anthony Norman Talks DEAR EVAN HANSEN National Tour, How He's Approaching the Role & More
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The National Tour of Dear Evan Hansen is in its fourth year of touring across North America, and will now have a new Evan Hansen! Anthony Norman (The Prom original Broadway cast, National Tour of Newsies, and more) is stepping into the lead role beginning tonight!

Norman will star opposite Coleen Sexton as 'Heidi Hansen', Lili Thomas as 'Cynthia Murphy', Pablo Laucerica as 'Jared Kleinman' and Micaela Lamas as 'Alana Beck.' John Hemphill, Nikhil Saboo and Alaina Anderson all continue with the tour, with John and Nikhil reprising their roles as 'Larry Murphy' and 'Connor Murphy,' and Alaina, formerly the Alana/Zoe cover, taking over the role of 'Zoe Murphy' full-time.

BroadwayWorld spoke with Anthony Norman about his audition for 'Evan', how he's prepared to take on the role, and more.

When was the first time you saw Dear Evan Hansen, and did you ever think you would get the chance to play Evan Hansen?

Not in a million years! The first time I saw it was when Ben Platt was doing it, it was the summer of 2017. It's actually a funny story because I got the appointment for this and I was like, "Ok, great!" and then Covid happened. And then almost two years to the day later, I got called back in for Evan, and I was like, "You know what, this isn't my show, it's not for me, I'm not right for it, I'm too old for it," blah, blah blah. "I'm not vocally right for it, I feel like I wouldn't be able to do it." And on my way to my first appointment, even though I had everything prepared, I felt so unprepared and so out of my element for some reason.

And then I go into the appointment, and I meet Danny Sharron, the Senior Associate Director and Ben Cohn, the Music Supervisor. And it was this very interesting thing where as soon as I was in the room there was this energy where I was like, "Oh, this is correct!" I did the opening monologue, it was good, Danny gave me some notes, and we worked on it, it went well. Then we did Waving Through a Window, which is the bane of every guy's existence, especially when you're auditioning for it, because it's a hard song. And I was kind of dreading it to be honest. But Danny was like, "Do you want to do some 'Waving'?" and I was like, "Yeah, let's do it!" And he was like, "No one is ever excited about that, that's great!" And so I just dove right in and it just went as well as it could have gone.

And as soon as I left the room I was like, "Oh, there is no way that this is not my part." I went from feeling like "It's just not my part" to 100% being like, "This is my role, this is perfect!" Then I had three more appointments and here we are! So, to answer your question, no, absolutely not, I never thought in a million years I'd be playing Evan. It's a dream.

How does it feel to be stepping into the shoes of the actors who have played this character, and to be carrying on the legacy of this role?

It's an honor first and foremost, but it's also a huge responsibility. Because Evan speaks for a lot of people who can't speak for themselves. And he represents a lot of people who can't represent themselves. So while it is incredibly thrilling and amazing, it's also a huge responsibility and I'm really excited to carry that responsibility. It's such an honor.

Everyone who has played this role has brought something different to it, how are you approaching this character?

It's really good question. I'm trying to approach it as the most realistic form as possible. I know that sounds super pretentious, but just to make him as real as possible, and not make him this quirky, cute guy with social anxiety. He struggles with a very real thing, and he suffers from such a common thing, which is severe social anxiety, and I'm not commenting on it, I'm not trying to get laughs, I'm just coming at it with the most real perspective as possible. So, again, those people who may relate to Evan will be like, "Woah, I get that. I've done that. He understands me." That sort of thing. To have someone sit in the audience, because I've been in the audience like this, to have someone go, "I didn't know someone else could feel that way," it's the best job in the world. It's the best thing you could hear. With the help of Michael Greif, who is has just been unbelievable to work with, he's really helped me deepen and find who my Evan is, and it's just been so thrilling. It's been such a gift.

What has the preparation been like for you?

Rigorous, to put it plainly. It's been a marathon. I found out that I got the job two months before we started rehearsals, so I had been working with my vocal coach, Richard Lissemore. He and I had been working together almost for a year at this point, all over Zoom, because he lives upstate, I live in Brooklyn, and he is a major part of why I got this part. In terms of preparation, I would bring him the material after I found out I got the job, we would work on it, we would work on technique, but jumping into rehearsals, it's been a marathon, it's been really cool. And a lot of the cast is new, which is super exciting, that never really happens with a show that is already running. So, it feels like we're all starting from scratch together, and that is so cool. The cast has been nothing but supportive, and just game for anything. And it doesn't hurt that everyone is really cool and really fun!

Do you feel like you relate to Evan Hansen?

Yeah! More so than I ever could have imagined. I get the feeling of wanting to please everybody so badly in an effort to fit in, and to feel accepted and validated. I absolutely relate to that, it's a very painful thing, sacrificing your own needs and feelings to feel involved, to feel included.

What are you most looking forward to with starring in the National Tour of Dear Evan Hansen?

I think I am especially looking forward to playing Chicago, which is where I'm from, and I think playing places like LA, and many other great cities. There are some really great cities we have on the itinerary, but especially Chicago and LA. It's insane to play these houses that I've played before with Newsies, but to now play them as the star, it's insane. That is something I'm still wrapping my head around, but it's an incredibly special thing, it's like "Woah, people are buying tickets, and getting babysitters, and dog-sitters to go see Dear Evan Hansen, and I'm the person that they're going to see." It's wild! And to bring the show to people who couldn't get to New York, or don't have the means to go to New York, to bring the show to people in Lubbock, Texas, who may never get the chance to see it in New York. What a special thing!

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