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Interview: An Inside Look with Alana Beck & Jared Kleinman of DEAR EVAN HANSEN at Murat Theatre

DEAR EVAN HANSEN will be on stage at the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre from April 26th to May 1st.

Dear Evan Hansen

Since its debut, Dear Evan Hansen has rocked the musical world with its impactful message and incredible score. We wanted to know more about its inner workings and how the latest cast for the national tour takes on this powerhouse show.

We had the opportunity to speak with Ciara Alyse Harris (Alana Beck) and Alessandro Constantini (Jared Kleinman) to get their unique perspective on Dear Evan Hansen. The two fast friends maintained a volley of incredible insight into this production and its resonance with audience members.

A common theme in our interviews over the past year has been what it's like to return to a show after the COVID-caused hiatus. For Ciara, the break provided a much-needed reset. She described it as a chance to "take a break that we probably would not have taken otherwise" and in the end, "come back a lot stronger in rehearsals." Alessandro shared her feelings, noting that the added time helped the cast get "ready to gel together." This is especially crucial in a show that relies on a small cast to maintain their emotional and musical stamina.

DEAR EVAN HANSEN touches on some familiar but also dark themes. It confronts issues as deep and universal as going to high school, social anxiety, and suicide. We wanted to know what message the cast is looking to bring to audiences. Ciara said simply, "For me, it's about how flawed we all are." She also notes that the show makes the audience struggle with the fact that Evan is a flawed hero. He's both protagonist and antagonist, so there's a struggle to accept him but also an urge to cheer him on. For Ciara, "that kind of representation is so important" because "we as people are so complex." It's not really so black and white or right and wrong. Alessandro shared his goal is to share "the idea [that] even in your darkest moments [you can find] some trust that you will make it through, even though it seems impossible...find that tiny glimmer of light from something or someone." Overall, the message seems to center on vulnerability mixed with empathy and hope. It's a message that many audience members are sure to relate to.

Since audience members are likely to have strong, visceral reactions to the content, we were curious if anyone has shared stories with them of the show's influence on their lives. Alessandro notes that "there's a big scope of how people connect to us." It could be as simple as bringing back memories of their own struggles in high school, survivors of suicide sharing their stories, or family members who have lost someone to suicide sharing their memories. Ciara points it all back to vulnerability. The show "allows so many people to be so vulnerable on stage, it evokes people to be vulnerable themselves." This brings her to the understanding that Dear Evan Hansen is "not about us, it's about what we're playing."

This led us straight to one of the most difficult questions, confronting suicide on stage. Both cast members pointed to the importance of this show as a conversation starter for those who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts and tendencies and for families who may need to reach out. Ciara notes, "It's showing you that there are a lot of people dealing with this very universal issue." Alessandro followed up with the message "You really need to reach out and rely on the people you love," and "there are resources available." At the heart of it, the conversation points to one of the musical's beloved songs: "You Will Be Found." By taking the time to look around yourself or look around at others, you don't have to be alone in your struggles or leave someone alone who is buried in theirs.

Finally, we had to know how it's possible to take on the intensity of Dear Evan Hansen and the incredible weight that it has for those who love it. Again, both cast members were in sync and refused to describe this as a burden for them as performers. Instead, Ciara said, "I wouldn't call it pressure. I would call it a responsibility. I like to think of it as, oh my god, I can't believe I get to be a part of this." Alessandro reflected specifically on the final bow of the show. "It feels particularly sacred and different" because "it feels like we've run this marathon together. It's almost like we've planted something in them, something instilled in the room that will continue beyond our voices, beyond our lights." That is a special experience for cast members and audience members alike.

Your chance to enjoy Dear Evan Hansen is quickly approaching. Dear Evan Hansen will be on stage at the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre from April 26th to May 1st. Tickets are selling quickly, so reserve yours today.



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