By Keith Tomasek, March 29, 2019
“Dear Evan Hansen” tickets might be tough to find, if the reaction to opening night is any indication of the show’s success.
Pasek and Paul were at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theater, which was painted blue, for the international premiere Thursday night.
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The very contemporary musical, with a score by Grammy, Tony and Academy Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“La La Land,” “The Greatest Showman”) is directed by four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif (“Rent,” “Next to Normal”).
Three of the actors in Toronto’s “Dear Evan Hansen” will be familiar to Stratford Festival fans.
Robert Markus, best known for his recent spine chilling performance as Riff Raff in “The Rocky Horror Show,” is spectacular as the high school student whose life transforms because of a lie. The challenging role of Evan Hansen provided Markus with a unique opportunity to showcase not only his voice but his strong abilities as an actor. There’s no doubt that Markus, who completed a BFA in acting at the University of Alberta, has a long career ahead of him.
Photo by Matthew Murphy
Sean Patrick Dolan is perfect as the surly rich kid that audiences love to hate, until… sorry no spoilers! Dolan made his Stratford debut in “Fiddler on the Roof” and more recently played Friedrich in “The Sound of Music.” Since then he’s been busy with theatre and TV appearances including “Schitt’s Creek.”
Photo by Matthew Murphy
Evan Buliunghits all the right notes as the father who had me questioning my own parental skills. Buliung, perhaps mining memories from his youth as a military cadet, brings a wonderful mix of vapid authority and regret to the role. Buliung, who rocked the roll of Sky Masterson in Donna Feore’s “Guys and Dolls” at Stratford has also done great work on the Mirvish stages including his much celebrated performance as Khashoggi in Mirvish’s “We Will Rock You”
Photo by Matthew Murphy
Newcomer to the Royal Alexandra stage, Shakura Dickson, a Sheridan College grad, hit all the laugh lines as the social media diva. But that’s #IMHO #JSYK.
Bring someone you love, ideally half, or double, your age for a night you’ll never forget.
Below are links to “Dear Evan Hansen” in Toronto reviews, I’ll ad more as they’re published.
“As Evan, Mr. Markus, who’s starred in Tommy and The Rocky Horror Show at the Stratford Festival, impresses right from the top, flawlessly making his way through Waving Through a Window’s vulnerable falsetto and blast-you-to-the-back-of-your-seat belting.”
Link (for subscribers): https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/theatre-and-performance/reviews/article-review-dear-evan-hansen-is-a-milestone-musical-that-speaks-to-our/
Toronto Star – 4 Stars from Carly Maga:
“This production is ultimately successful because Markus earns the sympathy that the story gives Evan, which leaves him remarkably unscathed from his trail of unethical decisions.”
NOW Magazine – 4 Ns from Glenn Summi:
“Markus fully inhabits Evan, his eyes downcast, his voice pitched high when he’s especially nervous and his defeated posture evoking his inner conflicts. He handles the show’s huge vocal demands with ease and, judging from the tears streaming down his face in a couple of songs, connects with the story’s emotional arc as much as we do.”
National Post – Alison Broverman:
“As Evan, Robert Markus leads an exceptional cast who sell this strange, cynical story alarmingly well. Markus’s Evan is so vulnerable and loveable that the audience can’t help but root for him despite the terrible hole he digs for himself. As Connor’s mother, Claire Rankin radiates the desperation of a parent whose love was, tragically, not enough for their child. And Evan Buliung is cornering the market on troubled musical dads after winning a Dora last year for his performance in Fun Home.”
Mooney on Theatre – Wayne Leung:
“The role of Evan Hansen is incredibly difficult but Stratford Festival alumnus Robert Markus rises to the challenge. Markus has a sweet and gorgeously expressive singing voice but perhaps more importantly, he acts the part brilliantly.”
Tribute.ca – Alexandra Heilbron:
The production is absolutely stunning, from the songs to the story, to the sets that swing in and out. It was fascinating every time Connor appeared onstage after his death — because he wasn’t Connor as he had been, but as Evan wished he’d been, if they’d been the kind of friends Evan has been describing to the Murphys.
Stage Door – Christopher Hoile
“The all-Canadian cast is very well chosen and, though Evan and Heidi are starring roles, they all work together as a tight ensemble. Robert Markus is simply outstanding as Evan. He makes all of Evan’s quirks and extreme shyness sit believably alongside Evan’s sudden expansiveness when telling lies. His voice is remarkably strong and rich and he has the ability to use his falsetto to float heavenly high notes. All his songs succeed beautifully from “Waving Through a Window”, to “For Forever” to the downcast “Words Fail”. It’s difficult to imagine a better performance.”
Come back for more reviews and my “5 Questions” features with Robert Markus, Sean Patrick Dolan and Evan Buliung.
Dear Evan Hansen
Book by Steven Levenson
Music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Directed by Michael Greif
March 5 to June 30, 2019
Royal Alexandra Theatre
260 King Street West, Toronto
Dear Evan Hansen Tickets
Call 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333