First, it was a smash on Broadway and then it won six Tony Awards in 2017, including best musical. Now, “Dear Evan Hansen” is making its Toronto debut.
The musical has been referred to as contemporary, modern and authentic because the flash and sequin-lacking production focuses on a realistic teenager with an anxiety disorder, struggling to make connections in a social-media driven age.
Tony and Grammy award-winning composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul told Global News this musical was more than a decade in the making.
“When we started this idea many years ago, we never thought it would become what it’s become,” said Pasek.
Another reason for the show’s success is the slew of catchy songs including, “You Will Be Found,” “For Forever” and “Waving Through a Window.”
To pull the songs off, the show’s composers said a “killer voice” is a must. Robert Markus from Stratford performs in the title role.
“It’s one of those so-few roles that you get to use all of the tools in your tool box especially not only acting but vocally as well because you have songs at the top of your range. You have songs at the low end of your range,” said Markus.
“I think it’s really wonderful to have Evan be a Canadian because he is representing Canadians.”
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The show is directed by four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif.
“Mostly, I love that this musical really rips your heart apart, and at the same time it keeps your mind really engaged,” he said..
Paul said he hopes the audience members can envision themselves on stage.
“To look and say, ‘Oh, that’s what I’m going through right now’ or for families to come and relate to it that way,” he said.
“One of the most meaningful things to us is that people come and see the show and say, ‘Hey, thank you, that started a dialogue with me and my kids or me and my parents.”
The Canadian cast gives their first performance to audiences on Tuesday at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre.