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Review: DEAR EVAN HANSEN at The Overture Center

Dear Evan Hansen runs through May 15

Review: DEAR EVAN HANSEN at The Overture Center

Dear Evan Hansen has been a long-awaited show for this reviewer and it did not disappoint. The show was inspired by the true story of Benj Pasek, the show's lyricist, who, after a high school classmate died of a drug overdose, witnessed classmates tell false stories of being part of the deceased student's life.

That is the first thing I noticed was The Overture was full. There were 15 or so empty seats in my line of view, so different from the last show I had the pleasure of seeing here. The audience was enjoying comradery before the performance with a joyful buzz of talking and laughter. Some were masked, but most seemed to appreciate their newfound freedom from the last two plus years. My partner and I enjoyed a cocktail from our seats for the first time in as many years. It was a marvelous evening.

We are introduced to Evan (Stephen Christopher Anthony), a high school senior with social anxiety, as he sits on his bed talking himself into writing a letter to himself at his therapist's suggestion. Things are not going well for him.

Things are going equally poorly for his mother, Heidi (Jessica Sherman) as she struggles with raising her son alone while working and attending community college.

We are soon introduced to the Murphy family as they try to get Connor (Nikhil Saboo) to go to class. Mother Cynthia (Kelsey Venter) argues with her husband Larry (John Hemphill) about their son, while their daughter Zoe (Alaina Anderson) venomously pipes in her opinions. This is what rich suburban disfunction can look like.

Connor does go to school at least one more time, and then ends his life. Connor's suicide becomes arguably the best thing that could have happen for Evan, who invents an important role for himself within the confines of this tragedy.

With the help of "family friend" Jared Kleinman (Alessandro Constantini), a web of deceit is woven, until it becomes clear that Evan will not be able to sustain it. Nearly called out by Connor's "very close acquaintance" (who can't really remember but may have had an English class with Connor), Alana Beck (Haile Ferrier), Evan comes (partly) clean.

This is where the book falls apart for me. Up until this point, this has been a superb musical, the acting, singing, choreography, staging. All of it is incredible. Truly. But then this.

Evan comes clean to the Murphy family and his mom. But notably not clean with everyone else. The Murphy family is distraught. His mother, while supportive, is hurt. Zoe, Connor's sister, and Evan's girlfriend now, is devastated. Everything unravels. We are left asking "how will Evan fix this? How will they all recover from this deceit?" The next day, I am still asking these questions. After the unraveling and breakdown, we simply cut to a year later. There is the "finale" and applause, and, as we say in the business "lights up". The show is over.

Perhaps, the point is there is no true recovery from such a deceit, but that time can diminish the pain?

I enjoyed this show. The actors were amazing, engaging and empathically believable. I felt things. I was affected, especially by the reprise of "You Will be Found". I was also left wanting. Wanting some sort of amends or closure for the Murphy family and Evan's issues with lies being wrapped up. It wasn't important that he "get the girl", and yet I wanted to know how he and all the rest of the characters would go on. I still want to know.

Go see this show! Even with the issue I had with the book, it is an incredible show. It does share an important message and that message is that you are not alone in whatever you are going through. No one has to feel alone.

THE MADISON PREMIERE OF

DEAR EVAN HANSEN

COMES TO OVERTURE HALL ON MAY 10-15

Madison, Wis. (April 25, 2022) - In two weeks, Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen comes Overture Center for eight performances in Overture Hall, starting Tuesday, May 10 and running through Sunday, May 15. Tickets ($40-$149) are available at overture.org.

A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he's always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Dear Evan Hansen is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it.

Dear Evan Hansen has struck a remarkable chord with audiences and critics everywhere, including The Washington Post who says Dear Evan Hansen is "Theatrical magic. One of the most remarkable shows in musical theatre history." The New York Times calls it "a breathtaking knockout of a musical." And NBC Nightly News declares the musical "an inspiring anthem resonating on Broadway and beyond."


Dear Evan Hansen features a book by Tony Award-winner Steven Levenson (Fosse/Verdon), a score by Grammy®, Tony® and Academy Award® winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land, The Greatest Showman), and direction by four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal).

North American tour casting includes Stephen Christopher Anthony in the title role. Jessica Sherman plays 'Heidi Hansen', Claire Rankin plays 'Cynthia Murphy', and John Hemphill plays 'Larry Murphy.' Nikhil Saboo and Stephanie La Rochelle round out the Murphy family (as Connor and Zoe, respectively), with Alessandro Costantini as 'Jared Kleinman' and Ciara Alyse Harris as 'Alana Beck' completing the on-stage company.

The cast also includes Sam Primack (as the Evan alternate) along with understudies Alaina Anderson, Haile Ferrier, Matthew Edward Kemp, Coleen Sexton, Daniel Robert Sullivan, Kelsey Venter, and Julian Diaz-Granados.

Declared "One of the most remarkable shows in musical theater history" by the Washington Post's Peter Marks, Dear Evan Hansen opened at the Music Box Theatre to rave reviews on December 4, 2016, where it's broken all box office records and struck a chord with critics and audiences alike. It went on to win six 2017 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the Drama League Award for Outstanding Musical Production, two Obie Awards, a Drama Desk Award, two Outer Critics Circle Awards and two Helen Hayes Awards.

Dear Evan Hansen, produced by Stacey Mindich, features scenic design by David Korins, projection design by Peter Nigrini, costume design by Emily Rebholz, lighting design by Japhy Weideman, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, and hair design by David Brian Brown. Music supervision, orchestrations and additional arrangements are by Alex Lacamoire. Ben Cohn is the Associate Music Supervisor. Vocal arrangements and additional arrangements are by Justin Paul. Danny Mefford is the choreographer. Casting by Tara Rubin Casting/Xavier Rubiano. Sash Bischoff, Adam Quinn and Danny Sharron are the Associate Directors. Judith Schoenfeld is the Production Supervisor. US General Management 101 Productions.

Recommended for ages 12+; This production contains some adult themes, including discussions of suicide. Children under the age of four will not be permitted in the theatre.

For more information, please visit DearEvanHansen.com.

CAST BIOS

Stephen Christopher Anthony (Evan Hansen). He/him. Stephen is overjoyed to return to the stage as Evan. Broadway: Dear Evan Hansen (Evan u/s), Book of Mormon (Ensemble, McKinley u/s). National Tour: Catch Me If You Can (Frank Abagnale Jr). During the shutdown Stephen got a puppy, perfected his lasagna recipe, mastered the Rubik's Cube, taught Voice at FSU, began Yoga Teacher Training certification, and truly missed every person listed in your playbill. Florida State University: BM in Musical Theatre. UCB Improv Comedy grad. Love to the entire DEH family, Stacey Mindich, Tara Rubin, Xavier Rubiano, Mom, Dad, Ryan, CameronIG/Twitter:@_stephenanthony. www.stephenchristopheranthony.com

Stephanie La Rochelle (Zoe Murphy) is thrilled to be continuing her journey with the National Tour after appearing in the original Canadian production. Select credits: Heartland (CBC); Backstage (Disney); In The Dark (CW); The Preacher's Sin (Lifetime). Stephanie is a CCMA award nominated singer-songwriter. Huge thanks to the team at DEH, Stephanie Gorin, The Talent House, and her family. Let's erase the stigma. www.stephlarochelle.com/ @steph_larochelle

Jessica E. Sherman (Heidi Hansen). She/ her. Original Heidi Hansen in Toronto's Dear Evan Hansen, for which she won the Toronto Theatre Critic's Association Award. International credits include Rock 'n' Roll (West End), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Japan), Batman Live (World Arena Tour), Lend Me A Tenor (Vienna), John and Jen (Guildford), The Sound of Music (UK Tour), Heart of Winter and The Last Party (Toronto). Film credits include Le Dindon (Cinéfrance). For PS, always. @jessica_like_the_tank

Claire Rankin (Cynthia Murphy) Claire originated the role of Cynthia in the Canadian production and then joined the US National Tour. Theatre: Four seasons with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Favourite roles include Juliet (Romeo & Juliet) Cosette (Les Miserables) Louise (Carousel) Maggie (The Wrong Son) Select FILM/TV: Molly's Game, The Swap, "Monk," "House," "Suits," "Quantico," "Damien," "Rogue," "Charmed," "Nikita." Soon to be seen as Mary in the tv series "Son of a Critch" (airing Jan 2022.)

Nikhil Saboo (Connor Murphy) is elated to join the tour of DEH - aligning in his purpose of creating space, opening other's perspectives, and lifting up all aspiring South Asian artists across the country. Prior, Nikhil was on tour with the Angelica Company of Hamilton and in the original Broadway cast of Mean Girls. Gratitude to Stewart Talent, the DEH company, and my tribe. Love to Mom, Dad, and Nisha. For Dada and Ama. @nikhil.saboo

John Hemphill (Larry Murphy). starred on Broadway as Sam/Bill in Mamma Mia!, original Broadway company of Andrew Lloyd Webber's School of Rock. First National Tour of The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time. Film: Zodiac directed by Academy Award nominated David Fincher. TV: Castle, Monk, Las Vegas, The Black List, Mr. Robot, Big Love among others. Hi to my students at Stephens College! John is ever grateful to wife Jenn. @johnhemphill

Alessandro Costantini (Jared Kleinman). Born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario Canada. Alessandro is the co-founder and Artistic Director of YES Theatre, Northern Ontario's premiere institution for the support and development of emerging and Citizen Artists. Please support your entire local artistic ecology. #lovetomyfamilyandfriends YESTHEATRE.COM

Ciara Alyse Harris (Alana Beck; u/s Zoe Murphy) is OVERJOYED to become your closest acquaintance! A Miami Florida native, and recent graduate of the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (CCM), her credits include Lorraine (All Shook Up, The Muny), Mary (Jesus Christ Superstar, CCM) and Eve (Children of Eden, CCM). She thanks her family for always believing in her, HCKR, and the good Lord for always working in mysterious ways! @ciaraalyseharris

Sam Primack (Alternate Evan Hansen; u/s Connor Murphy, Jared Kleinman). is delighted to be back with the DEH family, bringing hope, healing and the power of live theatre back to audiences across the country. Phoenix, AZ native. Broadway: Dear Evan Hansen. National Tour: The Addams Family (Pugsley Addams). Professional: Phoenix Theatre, Arizona Broadway Theatre. 2017 Jimmy Award finalist. Many thanks to Tara Rubin, Xavier Rubiano, Stacey Mindich, and the entire DEH team. Incredibly grateful for the endless support from amazing family, friends, and teachers.

Alaina Anderson (u/s Alana Beck, Zoe Murphy) is elated to be making her professional debut in Dear Evan Hansen! Recent graduate of Yale University with a degree in Cognitive Science. Love and gratitude to the wonderful family, friends, and mentors who have supported her, Tara Rubin, Xavier Rubiano, Stacey Mindich, and the whole DEH team.

Haile Ferrier (u/s Alana Beck, Zoe Murphy) is thrilled to be making her national tour debut fresh out of college! Haile is a proud LINK and YoungArts alum and thanks both for being second family and groups of absolute girl bosses. Thank you family, friends and mentors for your constant support! Elon MT '21 www.haileferrier.com @haile.ferrier

MATTHEW Edward Kemp (u/s Evan Hansen, Connor Murphy, Jared Kleinman) Matthew is thrilled to be returning to his National Tour Debut! He is a graduate of The University of Michigan, BFA Musical Theatre. Endless thanks to Stacey, my DEH family, Luke, and my friends & family! @Matthewtheginger

Julian Diaz-Granados (u/s Connor Murphy, Jared Kleinman) is thrilled to join DEH! Broadway: Ruben and Clay's Christmas Show. NYC/Regional Favorites: Newsies (Jack Kelly), Dog Sees God (Matt), Cabaret (Cliff ), Just Laugh (Timmy). Thanks to Tara Rubin and the DEH teams. Love to Mama, Papa, Noah, Sam, family, friends, teachers, and my beautiful wife, Kateryna. www.juliandiazgranados.com

Coleen Sexton (u/s Heidi Hansen, Cynthia Murphy) is thrilled to be back! Broadway: Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde. She has also appeared in the movie version opposite David Hasselhoff. National tours: Elphaba in Wicked, Brooke Wyndham in Legally Blonde and various roles in Chicago. TV: "Law and Order" and "Third Watch". Go Yankees!

Daniel Robert Sullivan (u/s Larry Murphy) performed as Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys more than 1000 times with the Las Vegas, Toronto, and touring companies, and in the national tour of Motown the Musical. He's the author of Prospect High: Brooklyn, Braving the Bronx River, Becoming A Jersey Boy, and There's No Substitute for Empathy.

Kelsey Venter (u/s Heidi Hansen, Cynthia Murphy). National Tour: Dear Evan Hansen. Selected Regional: Guthrie Theater, American Conservatory Theater, Old Globe Theater. BA in Theater SDSU, MFA American Conservatory Theater. All love and gratitude to my incredible family, friends, and mentors for believing in me. www.kelseyventer.com

www.dearevanhansen.com

www.instagram.com/dearevanhansen

www.twitter.com/dearevanhansen

www.facebook.com/DearEvanHansen

OVERTURE CENTER FOR THE ARTS in Madison, Wis., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization that features seven state-of-the-art performance spaces and four galleries where national and international touring artists, nine resident companies and hundreds of local artists engage people in nearly 700,000 educational and artistic experiences each year. With the vision to provide "Extraordinary Experiences for All," Overture's mission is to support and elevate our community's creative culture, economy and quality of life through the arts. overture.org



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