Ask the ladies of Dear Evan Hansen to describe one reason why audiences should flock to the Music Box Theatre to witness this new Broadway musical. For Drama Desk nominee Rachel Bay Jones, there isn’t just one key reason: “There are a million.”
Jones, who originated the role of Evan Hansen’s mother in the show’s regional run and continues the portrayal on Broadway, adds, “This play feels really real. This is a great play. It has great music, but it feels real. It feels like these are real people up there. The acting style is very natural. We are getting into some authentic, messy territory.” Jones continues that Dear Evan Hansen “takes these very real, gritty, funny life stories and elevates that — and shows ourselves.”
Joining Jones onstage as a key female player is Jennifer Laura Thompson, a Broadway veteran who made her debut in the original cast of Footloose in 1998. As a mother herself, Thompson shares with us: “One of the many messages that I feel is really timely as a parent [is that of] social media.” She explains that, though social media exists to keep people feeling connected and ever-present in society, “it is doing the opposite. It is making people feel more disconnected. It can make them feel alienated” and, in some cases, seeking to attain an illusionary perfection.
Notes Thompson, “I think that is really important for the younger generations who have never known life without social media to see how managing that world can be.” Jones then touches on the subject, adding “And also, for people who did not grow up with like us — to see that there is definite beauty inside of that world as well. [The show also] doesn’t nullify social media.” Instead, both actresses note that Dear Evan Hansen effectively explores a somewhat controversial topic for many parents and teenagers alike: “I think that is why we both feel like [the musical] is a real bridge. It shows us all sides. [The show] does not really make a lot of judgements about anything but rather explores the idea of social media and our media-connected world as another character in the play.”
For those still doubting whether or not to see Dear Evan Hansen, Rachel Bay Jones and Jennifer Laura Thompson gave us five, succinct reasons why you should see Hansen this theatrical season.
“One reason you should see this show is to help you understand your family.” -Rachel Bay Jones
“It is a very powerful universal message that speaks to anyone of any age — and anyone with a parent.” -Jennifer Laura Thompson
“I think it is part of a wave of contemporary musical theater that is changing how we think about the genre. It is exciting, new. It is part of the movement towards more realistic musicals.” -Rachel Bay Jones
“The music by Pasek and Paul.” -Jennifer Laura Thompson
“[Jennifer] will agree with me — Steven Levenson’s book. Levenson’s book and Michael Greif’s direction.” -Rachel Bay Jones