BWW Interview: Jessica Sherman of DEAR EVAN HANSEN at Majestic Theatre
DEAR EVAN HANSEN continues to sell-out shows all over North America as it makes its ways from city to city. It's been a show that brings on conversations with families, friends, and acquaintances as to how to connect to each other and be honest with each other. BWW recently caught up with Jessica Sherman who plays the part of Evan's mother, Heidi. She shared insights into the depth and breadth of the characters that has sparked its own little revelation of learning to connect to loved ones.
You play Evan's mom Heidi in DEAR EVAN HANSEN. What do you do to prepare to play that role every night?
She's a single mom. She's a nurse's assistant and also is studying in the evenings to become a paralegal. She's very busy and really trying hard. It's been her and Evan for about ten years all alone. At this point, we find her not letting the relationship slip but she's not as in touch with Evan as she thinks. He's gone through some changes that she hasn't quite kept on top of. She thinks she has. She thinks everything is under control. We find her at the point where things are just starting to slip away. There's a lot of things slipping away. Truth that slips away and relationships that slip away and to get back on top of them.
What made you want to audition for the role of Heidi Hansen?
It's an absolute dream come true. Who wouldn't want to be part a musical as big and well received and one as this and one that is making a difference in the lives as we go around? It's meaty. Also, I've got a great character. She's not just trying to find a man. It's about her and her son and she is not looking for love and there aren't any of those tropes. It's rare to find three-dimensional flawed female character over the age of 25.
Of all of the characters in the show, who do you think the audience will be most surprised to learn about?
One of the joys of all of these characters is they're all very relatable. I would say [that people] will find parts of themselves in one of these characters and really understand the choices that these characters are making. They're so well written. So relatable. Their wants and needs are all very different.
You are not a parent yourself. So, you are not any less qualified to play the part of Evan's mother.
I'm not but I do have aging parents and a disabled sister. Also, very dear friends and people in my life who I care for. I think the caring instinct is not one that is particular to motherhood. A need that's strong is also. I quite enjoy being able to portray that. It breaks the idea that you can only do it if you have experienced that thing.
Did you take any of the character from your own mother?
Absolutely. My mom was a single mom. I certainly think a lot about my own effect on her. What my effect was on her going through high school and choices I made. The circumstances are very different, but I definitely had a Murphy family in my life. I wanted to be there more than home. It was much more of what I thought I wanted out of life. It must have been awful for my mother. I'm very close with my father but, he wasn't there on a daily basis growing up. I definitely have a deeper appreciation for her and what she must have gone through.
What do you think the audience will be talking about as they drive home after the show?
It depends on who you come with. We have a lot of mothers and children that come. I think they will start conversations between them about relationships and about being open and honest with each other and being there for each other. I think the young ones in the show are very much [the ones they are] having a conversation about them (there isn't a bad character in this). There are people making choices that they think are the right choices or they haven't thought through the effect on other people. It ends up hurting people. Everybody's really trying their best to opposing ends. I hope it starts conversations amongst teens; amongst their peers in terms of being truthful and in terms of being honest of who they are at the moment and what they're going through and struggling with. There's this other family that's left bereft and there's a lot to talk about in terms of grief and how each of the parents deal with their grief; how it brings them together as a family and also tears them apart as a family. There's only eight characters and some have less airtime but there no less well drawn. There's not a superfluous line in this. Alana has one little line at the beginning that indicates her loneliness but if you miss that, you think that's just who she is. But, if you don't miss it, you know she's just as lonely as everyone else. They are all very deep characters. The reason that they do all the things that they do, they all stem from the same place. They're all wanting to connect to each other.
We have this benefit because we have this ground swell of the fans who have come in and swooped it (DEAR EVAN HANSEN) up and just so excited. I've never really experienced that. The tours that I've done have never been something that's on the nose as this is with fans. You're getting to places where they would have given their left arm to get to Broadway to see it two years ago. They've been desperately waiting to get there which is just so thrilling. It's a real pleasure to be able to bring DEAR EVAN HANSEN that are so excited for it. I hope there's room for them all. There's a lot of kids.
DEAR EVAN HANSEN continues its North American Tour with a stop in San Antonio, Texas at the Majestic Theatre. It plays from Dec. 19-22, 2019. Single tickets may still be available. Check out their website for available seats.
Call the box office at 210-226-3333.
PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Murphy