Dear Evan Hansen launched its first national tour in Denver in 2018. Cast as the alternate Evan Hansen, Stephen Christopher Anthony performed the groundbreaking, Tony Award® winning musical for rapt audiences. As the current tour makes its way through the country, audiences will see Anthony again as the full-time Evan Hansen. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts had the chance to sit down with Anthony and ask about his experience.
You opened the first national tour of Dear Evan Hansen as the alternate Evan Hansen in Denver. What was that experience like?
Playing Denver for the first time was a dream and such a whirlwind. Nobody outside of NYC or DC had ever seen the show. We couldn’t believe we got to take those first steps out on this journey to bring it to new audiences.
What are you looking forward to in returning to Denver as the full-time Evan Hansen?
Denver audiences were so enthusiastic and lovely to perform for. It was my first few weeks performing the role, so I was still very much figuring out what worked for me. It’s very exciting to go back to where we first launched with all this experience under my belt.
Apart from the pandemic, you’ve been a part of Dear Evan Hansen in some capacity since 2018. What is it about the show or Evan Hansen as a character that appeals to you?
The world of the story is so rich, and the words so layered with subtext, that there’s always something new to explore and re-examine. The heart of it stays the same, but there’s room for my Evan to grow from night to night, or from 2018 to now. Also, in life so many of us are taught to bury our “difficult” feelings, push them aside, so it’s very affirming and freeing to share them in a way that brings us all together every night.
You’ve been teaching and coaching outside of your own theatre work. How do you think performing on Broadway and touring has helped inform your teaching?
I’ve learned that my personal relationship to the nightly experience of the material is equally important to the technical execution of it. Most artists really want to be in control, we fall into this trap of striving for “correctness” in our work, which is understandable; but when you’re doing a long run of a show, “correct” ends up kind of machinelike and boring. I’ve tried to shift my approach to teach students to really let go of that control, surprise themself, let the work be messy. I’d rather messy and interesting than tidy and dull.
What advice do you have for the Evan Hansens of the world, who feel like they don’t belong anywhere?
Talk about it. To a parent, a friend, a teacher, a therapist, anyone. Write it down. Put your feelings into words, into art, movement, something, just share those feelings, because you’re not alone in it, and somebody out there does understand you and actually needs your words to help them feel less alone in it too.
Dear Evan Hansen
MAY 31 – JUNE 5, 2022 • Buell Theatre