GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – The musical performance of “Dear Evan Hansen” will give voice to mental health issues in Greenville. The Tony-winning musical debuts October 11 at the Peace Center.
7NEWS spoke with Anthony Norman, who plays Evan Hansen; and Nikhil Saboo, who plays Connor Murphy, in the musical’s nationwide tour.
Can you tell us something about your character?
Evan Hansen is a 17 year old kid and a very isolated teenager. He’s caught up in a lie he never meant to tell, and he’s caught up in something that’s just so much bigger than himself, according to Norman.
Aside from that and the plot of the show, he’s an isolated teenager who always feels like he’s on the outside of everything that’s going on, according to Norman.
How did you proceed to prepare your character?
I get this kind of feeling everyday of feeling like I’m outside of something. Even though at my age and, you know, a level of success that’s happened in my life, I still feel like I’m missing out on a lot of things in life and missing out on a lot of connections and friendships, relationships, whatever, according to Normand.
But it’s a very overwhelming thing to think about. So I really have to focus on something, whether it’s something I talk about in therapy or something that happened in my childhood. Sometimes I think of my nephew who is on the spectrum and I think he’s growing up and maybe he has no trouble fitting in with people and that helps me access the kind of emotions that I have to achieve, according to Norman.
What would you like audiences to take away from your portrayal of this character?
I didn’t know other people felt this way. If people leave the theater and feel that way, it’s like I did the best job in the world. I’ve had kids contact me saying, “I feel exactly that, and I had no idea anyone else would feel that. So thank you,” Norman said.
Nikhil Saboo plays Connor Murphy, who commits suicide at the start of the musical. He said that to play the character, Saboo recalls times when he felt isolated in his past.
It’s the feeling we all know of being truly alone. That feeling when you really feel alone, even with your loved ones, even with people who are your blood, according to Saboo.
The feeling of being isolated, of not being able to use your voice or your heart at any time. It’s such a specific yet universal feeling that we all experience.
How did the audience react to the performances?
It varies from night to night which is really wild and very exciting. It’s exciting not knowing what you’ll get each night in some cases from each audience, from different cities. It has been extremely exciting and scary, but also thrilling.
Because I think the coolest thing about live theater versus TV or movies or even sporting events is everyone in that room goes on a journey together.
Runtime and age recommendation
About 2 hours and 30 minutes, including an intermission
· The show recommends ages 12 and up. Children under four years old are not permitted.
· This production contains adult themes, including discussions of suicide.
· Winner of six 2017 Tony Awards, including Best Musical; 9 total Tony nominations
Winner of the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album
Winner of three Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical
· The story is loosely based on real events that writers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (LaLa Land, The Greatest Showman) experienced in high school and college.
· Evan Hansen wears an actual custom-molded fiberglass cast on his arm. Each evening, a new cast is applied at the start of the show and sawn off during the intermission.
$55 – $105
Tickets can be purchased online at peacecenter.org or by calling the box office at 864-467-3000. The opening hours of the box office are from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, and 90 minutes before each performance.
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