MetroFocus: September 24, 2021

BACKSTAGE WITH “DEAR EVAN HANSEN”: FROM BROADWAY TO THE BIG SCREEN, THE SHOW OPENS IN THEATERS TODAY

Broadway hit “Dear Evan Hansen” hits the big screen today. The show and film tell the story of a lonely 17-year-old, socially-isolated high school senior caught up in another family’s horrific tragedy. Tonight we sit down with the star Ben Platt and take you inside the story that resonates with so many today. And we talk with two of the original stars from the play, Rachel Bay Jones and Jennifer Laura Thompson. Plus, from tragedy to inspiration, we follow the emotional journey of three New York City students and show you the real life impact “Dear Evan Hansen” had on their lives. 

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION, THE JPB FOUNDATION.

> ONE OF BROADWAY'S BIGGEST STARS IS TAKING ON A NEW ROLE, SINGER/SONGWRITER.

BEN PLATT, THE YOUNG ACTOR WHOSE BRILLIANT PERFORMANCE IN THE SMASH HIT 'DEAR EVAN HANSON' EARNED HIM A TONY, A GRAMMY AND AN EMMY, RECENTLY RELEASED 'SING TO ME '' INSTEAD, AND IT IS A HIGHLY PERSONAL STATEMENT WHO A PERFORMER UP UNTIL NOW HAS BEEN MORE COMFORTABLE TELLING STORIES OTHER THAN HIS OWN.

SING TO ME INSTEAD HAS RAVE REVIEWS AND HAS A SOLD-OUT PERFORMANCE AT THE BEACON THEATER NEXT WEEK.

I RECENTLY SAT DOWN WITH THE AWARD-WINNING PERFORMER AND I BEGAN THE CONVERSATION BY ASKING HIM HOW THE IDEA FOR THE NEW ALBUM FIRST CAME TO BE.

IN A LOGISTICAL SENSE I WAS WORKING AT ATLANTIC RECORDS AND HAD A GREAT TIME WORKING AT ATLANTIC AND AS WE WERE GOING THROUGH THE PROCESS THEY MENTIONED A FEW TIMES HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT OF MAKING YOUR OWN RECORD AT ANY TIME?

WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO ORIGINAL MUSIC OR A POP ALBUM?

I WANTED TO BE FREE FROM CHARACTER AND I HAD WRITTEN JOKE SONGS WITH MY FAMILY AND WITH MY FRIENDS GROWING UP AND MUSICAL THEATER, I'D BEEN AROUND AND SORT OF WRITING MUSICALS HERE AND THERE, BUT NEVER HAD WRITTEN EARNESTLY MY OWN POINT OF VIEW AND I SAT DOWN WITH THIS RECORD IN MIND AND TO SEE WHAT WOULD COME OUT AND I LIKED THE SONGS THAT CAME OUT AND THE RECORD WAS BORN.

YOU SAID YOU WANTED THIS RECORD TO BE VERY PERSONAL.

VERY TRANSPARENT, AN AUTHENTIC PORTRAYAL OF YOUR PERSONAL LIFE WITH NO CHARACTERS IN BETWEEN YOU AND THE AUDIENCE AND THE LISTENERS.

WHY?

WHY DID YOU WANT THAT?

I'VE BEEN LUCKY AS AN ACTOR TO HAVE A LOT OF OPPORTUNITIES TO SHOW DIFFERENT PARTS OF MYSELF THROUGH OTHER PEOPLE AND TO DISGUISE MYSELF AND OTHER PERSPECTIVES AND HAVE THAT BE SORT OF THE MAIN TASK AT HAND AND IF I WAS GOING GO DOWN THIS ROAD AND TRY TO ADD SOMETHING LIKE A DIFFERENT LANE TO WHAT I DO, I WANTED IT TO BE A CHALLENGE THAT I WASN'T GOING TO BE ABLE TO FIND AS AN ACTOR AND THE ONE THING YOU DON'T GET TO FIND IS TO BE FREE OF WHO YOU ARE, FREE FROM ANY KIND OF SAFETY NET AND THE IDEA OF SHARING MYSELF THAT KIND OF VULNERABLY AND THAT TR TRANSPARENTLY WAS FRIGHTENING TO ME AND THAT WAS THE FEAR THAT I WAS CHASING AND SOMETHING THAT FEELS BRAND NEW AND UNCHARTED TERRITORY, AND I THOUGHT IF I WAS GOING TO DO THIS.

YOU'RE THE KIND OF GUY THAT RUNS INTO A FIRE INSTEAD OF RUNNING INTO ONE.

I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THE FIRE, BUT IF IT'S A MUSICAL FIRE.

AS YOU SAID IN PREVIOUS INTERVIEW, THAT THIS IS NOT A COMING OUT ALBUM BECAUSE YOU CAME OUT AS GAY TO YOUR FAMILY WHEN YOU WERE 12 YEARS OLD AND NEVER HIDDEN IT AT LEAST SINCE THEN, BUT MOST OF YOUR FAN, MOST OF YOUR AUDIENCES KNEW NOTHING ABOUT YOUR SEXUAL LIFE UNTIL THEY LISTENED TO THIS ALBUM.

DID THAT GIVE YOU PAUSE AT ALL THAT YOU WOULD MAKE YOURSELF MAYBE TOO VULNERABLE?

NOT REALLY.

I MEAN, I THINK, YOU KNOW, THE KIND OF STEP THAT I WAS MOST WORRIED ABOUT OR MORE APPREHENSIVE ABOUT WAS JUST SHARING MY OWN EXPERIENCES AND EMOTIONS AT ALL.

I DON'T THINK THAT SPECIFICALLY THAT THE SEXUALITY OF IT ALL WAS SOMETHING THAT I WAS MAKING A CONSCIOUS DECISION ABOUT IT.

ONCE I CROSSED THAT BRIDGE I'LL SHARE WHOI AM AND THAT'S JUST A PART OF WHO I AM SO THAT'S NATURALLY GOING TO BE SOMETHING THAT WAS GOING TO SHARE AND I WAS HAPPY TO DO IT IN THE CONTEXT OF ART AND SOMETHING THEY MADE RATHER THAN SORT OF MAKING A STAND-ALONE ANNOUNCEMENT OF SOME KIND BECAUSE WE ARE HOPEFULLY AS A SOCIETY AND AS A COUNTRY AND THE WORLD BEYOND NEEDING TO DECLARE THAT BECAUSE IT'S JUST A PART OF IT.

IT'S LIKE YOU'RE JEWISH INSTEAD OF CATHOLIC AND LIVE IN NEW YORK INSTEAD OF LOS ANGELES.

EXACTLY.

IF WE CAN TALK ABOUT GROW AS WE GO.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT?

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?

THAT'S OUR SINGLE, 'GROW AS WE GO' I WROTE IT WITH BEN ABRAHAM AND ALEX HOPE AND IT'S SP SORT OF A SONG ABOUT WHEN RELATIONSHIPS END, AND THE REASON SOMEONE GIVES I NEED TO GO AND FIND MYSELF AND FIGURE OUT WHOI AM BEFORE I CAN BE WITH SOMEONE ELSE AND I WAS IN A SIMILAR SITUATION AND THERE ARE CERTAIN TIMES WHEN THAT'S VALID AND THERE ARE OTHER TIMES WHEN IT'S A BIT OF A COP-OUT AND I WROTE IT FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE OTHER PERSON IN THE RELATIONSHIP.

I HEAR YOU AND I NEED TO FIND MYSELF, BUT WHY CAN'T WE STAY TOGETHER AND STAY NEXT TO EACH OTHER AND I CAN GIVE YOU TO GROW AND YOU GIVE ME ROOM TO GROW AND WHY DOES THAT MEAN WE HAVE TO BE APART?

♪ ♪ ♪ WE'LL TAKE IT SLOW AND GROW AS WE GO ♪ ♪ ♪

SO I THINK THE REASON THE SONG RESONATES WITH PEOPLE IS YOU CAN KIND OF FIND YOUR WAY ON THE POSITIVE SIDE IF YOU'RE IN A RELATIONSHIP WHERE YOU FEEL YOU'VE ACCOMPLISHED THAT AND ARE GROWING TOGETHER OR IF YOU'RE IN A RELATIONSHIP THAT HAS ENDED FOR THAT REASON AND THE SONG CAN SPEAK TO BOTH WORLDS.

TO WHAT DEGREE, IF ANY, DID YOU DO THIS ALBUM IN THIS WAY TO DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM THE ROLE THAT YOU HAVE BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH FROM THE ONE THAT YOU ORIGINATED AND THE ONE YOU WON A TONY FOR?

I DON'T THINK THAT'S THE MOTIVE WHEN IT GOT STARTED.

I THINK IT ENDED UP BEING A REALLY OPPORTUNE TIMING AS FAR AS COMING RIGHT AFTER FOR A COUPLE OF REASONS AND ONE BEING IT DID HELP ME SET MYSELF APART AS FAR AS THIS IS WHO I AM AS THIS CHARACTER AND IT IS MORE HONEST TO WHO I AM AS A PERSON, AND ALSO THROUGH THE EVAN HANSON EXPERIENCE I'VE HAD A LOT OF EXPERIENCES AS A HUMAN BEING THAT TOOK ME TO EMOTIONAL PLACES I HAVEN'T BEEN BEFORE AND IT WAS EYE OPENING AND IT SET ME UP TO HAVE A LOT OF THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT AND TO HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY.

SO GOING BACK TO THE ALBUM, WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST ENJOYABLE PART OF DOING THIS?

AND PERHAPS THE LEAST ENJOYABLE?

SURE, PERFORMING THE MUSIC LIVE IS BY FAR MY MOST FAVORITE PART SO FAR AND I'VE DONE IT IN SHOW CASES AND WHAT I AM EXCITED IS TO PERFORM IN BIG THEATERS AND THE WORST PART, I GUESS, I WOULD SAY I GOT USED TO THE BIT OF LOSS OF PRIVACY THAT XHSZ WITH EVAN HANSON AND PITCH PERFECT, BUT THIS IS A WHOLE NEW LEVEL OF THAT IN THE SENSE THAT I'M SHARING, LIKE I SAID VERY MUCH WHO I AM AND PERSONAL DETAILS ABOUT MY LIFE AND THERE IS A CERTAIN FEELING OF LOSS TO ANONYMITY WHEN YOU'RE BEING THAT OPEN AND THAT'S THE ONLY SACRIFICE INVOLVED, BUT I THINK IT'S WELL WORTH IT FOR HOW THE RESPONSE HAS BEEN TO THE MUSIC.

WELL, BEN, I TOLD MY EXECUTIVE PRODUCER BEFORE -- THIS MORNING I SAID, YOU KNOW, IF I FOUND A JEAGENIE IN A BOTT AND HE OFFERED ME THREE WISHES AND AFTER THE $10 BILLION AND FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH I WOULD ASK FOR BEN PLATT'S VOICE ESPECIALLY AS YOU USE IT IN THIS ♪ ♪

> BROADWAY SENSATION 'DEAR EVAN HANSON 'IS DOING MORE THAN JUST SELLING TICKETS.

IT'S CHANGING LIVES.

THE MUSICAL HAS PARTNERED WITH ARTS CONNECTION, A NEW YORK-BASED NON-PROFIT TO BRING THE GREAT WHITE WAY TO DOZENS OF NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL KIDS EVERY SUMMER.

WE FOLLOWED THE JOURNEY OF THREE STUDENTS AS THEY MADE THEIR WAY FROM SEEING THE PLAY FIRST HAND TO CREATING ART, BASED ON TEEN ANXIETIET AND POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA.

WHAT WE WITNESSED WAS A TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE FOR THESE THREE TALENTED AND SELF-AWARE YOUNG PEOPLE.

TAKE A LOOK.

THIS IS LIKE SOMETHING I WOULDN'T HAVE THOUGHT OF DOING.

USUALLY I JUST DREW AND SKETCHED, BUT, LIKE FOR MYSELF LIKE A STRESS RELIEVER.

WHEN I WAS LITTLE I USED TO TELL EVERYBODY I WANT TO BE AN ACTRESS WHEN I GROW UP.

NOW I HAVE THAT FEELING AGAIN.

WHEN I DRAW SWIRLS IT'S LIKE ALL OF MY ANXIETY, ALL OF MY FEELINGS AND ALL OF MY STRESS JUST COMES OUT ON TO THE PAPER.

IT RELAXES ME A LOT, AND IT DISTRACTS ME FROM EVERYTHING ELSE HAPPENING IN MY LIFE.

WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME WHAT I WANT TO DO I SAY I WANT TO BE AN ARTIST, BUT IT'S MORE THAN THAT, AND IF THIS IS WHAT I'M TALENTED AT, I WANT TO BE ABLE TO INSPIRE PEOPLE IN THIS WAY.

I ALWAYS COME BACK TO ARTS WHETHER IT'S, LIKE, VISUAL OR PERFORMING BECAUSE THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT, LIKE, WHEN I'M PAINTING OR WHEN I'M SEEING THAT MY BRAIN GOES ON AUTOPILOT AND I'M AWARE OF WHAT I'M DOING, BUT I'M ABLE TO EXPRESS EVERYTHING THAT I CAN'T REALLY, LIKE, NECESSARILY WRITE DOWN COMBINING THEATER AND ART.

IT'S HELPED ME GET THROUGH, LIKE, A LOT AND DEAR EVAN HANSON ESPECIALLY.

A SHOW LIKE THIS REALLY RESONATES WITH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS BECAUSE WHERE YOU ARE, THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU, YOU WANT TO CONNECT SO BAD WITH THEM, BUT YET YOU FEEL ALONE.

IT IS A CLASSIC COMING OF AGE STORY IN SO MANY WAYS.

A BOY, A TEEN, A HUMAN BEING WHO IS NOT YET AN ADULTEN COUNTERS A PROBLEM AND OVERCOMES IT.

MOST OF AMERICA FEELS VERY ALONE AND MISUNDERSTOOD BECAUSE ON SOCIAL MEDIA YOU HAVE TO PORTRAY YOUR LIFE IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY AND SHOW THE GREAT THINGS YOU'RE DOING AND YOU SHOW THE GREAT STUFF THAT'S GOING ON.

IT'S REALLY ABOUT COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR CHILD OR YOUR PARENT.

IF YOU'RE A PARENT OR YOU'RE A CHILD YOU'RE GOING TO BE AFFECTED BY WHAT YOU SEE ON STAGE.

AT THE VERY BASE IT'S ABOUT PARENTS AND CHILDREN.

DEAR EVAN HANSON, THE SHOW ON BROADWAY, RIGHT?

GOOD.

THAT'S WHY WE'RE HERE.

ONE OF THE REASONS.

WE PUT ARTISTS IN SCHOOLS WITH COMMUNITIES TO WORK WITH CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE AND WE GIVE THEM MATERIALS TO CREATE A SPECIFIC ART WORK BASED ON THE THEMES OF THE PRODUCTION.

IT DEALS A LOT WITH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION SO IT'S NICE TO BE IN A SHOW THAT SHOWS THAT THAT'S A REAL THING.

I THINK OFTENTIMES WE'RE EMBARRASSED BY IT AND MOST OF MY CASTMATES HAVE DEPRESSION.

I HAVE A LOT OF ANXIETY AND IT MADE ME FEEL A LOT LESS ALONE.

THEY HAD ME MAKE A COLLAGE THAT I MADE BECAUSE THERE'S SO MUCH IN MY HEAD.

SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE I'M UNDER WATER AND LIKE, I'M TRYING TO BREATHE AND I'M TRYING TO GO TO THE SURFACE, BUT I CAN'T AND IT WAS JUST AN OVERWHELMING FEELING.

♪ ♪

I DON'T THINK -- MY MOM, SHE'S A SINGLE MOTHER.

SHE RAISED ME AND MY TWO SIBLINGS ALONE AND MY DAD LEFT JUST LIKE EVAN'S DEAD AND THAT'S WHY I LIKE SO BIG SO SMALL SO MUCH BECAUSE I RELATE TO THAT FEELING OF EVAN GOING TO HIS MOM AND BEING VULNERABLE AND THE CORE FIGURE IN MY LIFE.

YOU WILL CREATE A PICTURE THAT WHATEVER IT FEELS TO YOU GUYS REPRESENTS THIS GAME.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT THIS MIGHT BE PORTRAYING?

YES?

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT.

LOVE THAT.

I ALWAYS COME BACK TO ARTS WHETHER IT'S, LIKE, VISUAL OR PERFORMING BECAUSE THERE'S JUST LIKE SOMETHING ABOUT WHEN I'M PAINTING OR WHEN I'M SINGING THAT MY BRAIN GOES ON AUTOPILOT AND I'M AWARE OF WHAT I'M DOING, BUT I'M ABLE TO EXPRESS EVERYTHING THAT I CAN'T REALLY, LIKE, NECESSARILY WRITE DOWN.

EVEN IF YOU'VE ALWAYS BEEN THAT BARELY IN THE BACKGROUND KIND OF GUY.

I REALLY LIKE ACTING BECAUSE YOU CAN, LIKE, GO INTO A WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD AND BE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSON.

THAT THE WORLD'S PASSED YOU BY.

AND WITH ART YOU PUT YOUR MIND ON PAPER.

WE'RE LOOKING AT KIDS WHO ARE TALENTED IN ONE AREA AND WE'RE ASKING THEM TO LOOK AT A SECOND ART AREA AND LEARN ABOUT IT AND LOOK AT IT THROUGH THE LENS OF WHAT THEY'RE INTERESTED IN AND WHERE THE, PE EXPERTISE LIES?

AFTER THEY'VE SEEN THE PLAY, THEY ACTUALLY HAVE A TALK BACK WITH MEMBERS OF THE CAST.

COMING TO SEE THEIR FATHER IN THIS.

THEY'RE GETTING INSIGHTS TO THE PLAY THAT MOST THEATER GOERS HAVE.

RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION.

BEING ON, COOL.

WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT YOU'VE DRAWN FROM THE SHOW.

WE ALL HAVE THESE FRAILTIES AND WE ARE ALL SO HOT MESSES AND YOU CAN SEE IT IN EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THESE CHARACTERS.

THE CHARACTER THAT I CONNECT WITH THE MOST WAS DEFINITELY EVAN.

I'VE FELT THAT BEFORE.

HAVING SO MANY PEOPLE AROUND YOU, BUT STILL FEELING ALONE.

YOUR JOB AS AN ACTOR IS TELL THIS STORY, AND SAY IT AS HONESTLY AS YOU CAN AND HOPE THAT PEOPLE RESPOND TO IT OR SEES THEMSELVES ON STAGE.

THE ABILITY TO SEE A PRODUCTION AND TALK ABOUT IT AND LEARN ABOUT IT AND THEN GO BACK AND CREATE WORK BASED ON WHAT THEY'VE SEEN.

IT'S PHENOMENAL FOR THE KIDS WHO HAVE BEEN INVOLVED.

I AM SO EXCITED.

IT'S NOT EASY TO GO THROUGH REALLY HARD THINGS IN LIFE AND DEAL WITH IT IN A HEALTHY WAY.

SOME PEOPLE JUST KEEP IT IN LIKE MY MOM ESPECIALLY LOVES THAT WE'RE ABLE TO WATCH SO MUCH CREATIVITY AND PASSION AND ART AND GO LISTEN TO A SONG.

YOU BROKE UP WITH YOUR BOYFRIEND, PAINT.

IT'S JUST -- IT JUST FEELS LIKE A HEALTHY WAY TO END A PRODUCTIVE WAY BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I LOVE DOING IT GET IT OUT.

SFO THEY EXPRESS THROUGH THEIR ART, A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF HOW IT AFFECTS AT LARGE.

THEIR VERBALIZATION AND HOW IT HAS BEEN EXPRESSED HAS BEEN VERY INTERESTING TO US.

♪ NETANYAHU ♪

ONCE WHEN I GOT DOWN TO PAINTING AND I FELL IN LOVE WITH IT AND NOW I WANT TO KEEP ON WORKING ON ART.

WANTED TO WORK ON SOMETHING RELATABLE, JUST SOMETHING ON BOOK THAT SHOWS AMBIGUITY.

I WOULD MAKE NEGATIVE WORDS INTO ART WORK BECAUSE THAT'S HOW I WAS FEELING SOMETIMES AND NOW THAT IT'S JUST CHANGED THE POSITIVITY, AND I WANT TO DO ART WORK WHEN I GROW UP.

I WANT TO GIVE KIDS THE EXPERIENCE THAT THEY CAN LEARN FROM AND TAKE THAT EXPERIENCE AND RUN WITH IT AND BE BETTER INFORMED INDIVIDUALS WHEN THEY'RE FINISHED.

SEEING MY OWN KIDS LIVE THEIR DREAMS IS THE GREATEST GIFT FOR ME.

WATCHING THEM, YOU KNOW, ABLE TO HAVE THOSE POSSIBILITIES, I THINK, YOU KNOW, THAT'S THE BEST THING.

THERE'S NOTHING BETTER FOR ME.

MORE THAN ANYTHING, THAT'S WHAT I WANT FOR MY KIDS.

WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU'LL BE IN FIVE YEARS?

I'M 16 RIGHT NOW.

I'LL BE 21.

I HOPE TO BE IN COLLEGE IN THE CITY MAJORING IN PSYCHOLOGY AND THEATER.

DOUBLE MAJOR.

I HOPE TO STILL BE CREATING ART AND JUST HELPING PEOPLE FEEL NOT ALONE WITH MUSIC AND PSYCHOLOGY.

YEAH.

♪ ♪

> DEAR EVAN HANSON IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST SHOWS ON BROADWAY THIS SEASON IT TELLS THE STORY OF A TEENAGER ANXIETY DRIVEN CAUGHT UP IN ANOTHER FAMILY'S TRAGEDY.

IT MAY NOT SOUND LIKE A BROADWAY BLOCKBUSTER, BUT THIS IS GETTING RAVE REVIEWS FROM CRITICS, EVOKING TEARS AND WINNING THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF YOUTH AND ADULTS AND IT'S ACCOMPLISHED WITH BRILLIANT PERFORMANCES AND THE TEAM THAT BROUGHT LA LA LAND TO LIFE AND SOCIAL MEDIA TAKING PART IN THIS SHOW.

LET'S TAKE A LOOK.

♪ ♪ WHEN YOU'VE FALLEN IN A FOREST AND THERE'S NOBODY AROUND ♪ ♪ DO YOU EVER REALLY CRASH OR EVEN MAKE A SOUND ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ DID I EVER MAKE A SOUND ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

> CAN ANYBODY SEE -- ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ WINNING, WINNING ♪ ♪

APPLAUSE, INDEED.

JOINING ME NOW ARE TWO OF THE ACTORS WHO HAVE BEEN WITH THE SHOW SINCE THE VERY BEGINNING.

RACHEL BAY JONES WHO PLAYS HEIDI HANSON, EVAN'S MOTHER AND JENNIFER LAURA THOMPSON WHO PLAYS THE MOTHER OF THE OTHER FAMILY IN THE PLAY DEALING WITH AN EPIC TRAGEDY.

LADIES, IT IS SO NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

I SAW THE SHOW RECENTLY AND IT WAS FANTASTIC.

AND INTERESTINGLY, A DIFFERENT FROM WHATEVER MY EXPECTATION WERE, SO LET ME ASK EACH OF YOU THE SAME QUESTION.

RACHEL, I'LL START WITH YOU.

OKAY.

WHEN THIS FIRST GETS PRESENTED TO YOU, RIGHT?

AND THE QUICK SYNOPSIS OF WHAT I JUST READ, A TROUBLED 17-YEAR-OLD AND STRUGGLING WITH ALL OF HIS OWN INTERNAL DEMONS AND ALL OF A SUDDEN BECOMES ENMESHED WITH THE FAMILY OF SOMEONE ELSE WHO HAS THEIR OWN TRAGEDY THEY'RE DEALING WITH AND OH, IT'S A MUSICAL.

AND YOU'LL LAUGH A LOT.

AND I DID AND I ALMOST FELT GOTTY IN THE VERY BEGINNING FOR LAUGHING.

WHEN YOU GIFT ARE FIRST GET PRESENTED WITH THIS, WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO IT?

WE HAD BEEN WITH IT SINCE THE BEGINNING.

WE WERE INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PAUL LEVINESON UNTITLED MUSICAL AND NOBODY GAVE US THE SYNOPSIS AND WE FOUND OUT WHAT IT WAS BY TURNING THE PAGES OF THE SCRIPT AS WE WERE READING IT OUT LOUD, BUT NOW THE HARD THING TO DO IS DESCRIBE WHAT THIS MUSICAL IS.

DOES IT HAVE A RECOGNIZABLE TITLE.

IT REALLY SOUNDS REALLY DEPRESSING WHEN YOU SAY OH, IT'S A TEEN SUICIDE MUSICAL.

YES.

LET ME ASK YOU THIS.

WHAT DO YOU TELL SOMEONE WHO IS A FRIEND OR RELATIVE, I HEAR YOU'RE IN THIS GREAT SHOW AND IT'S DOING FABULOUS.

TELL ME, WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

THE GENERIC SYNOPSIS THAT WE'VE TRIED TO COME UP WITH THAT IT'S THE STORY OF A YOUNG TEEN WHO FEELS DISCONNECTED WITH HIS SURROUNDINGS, HIS FAMILY AND BECAUSE OF A RECENT TRAGEDY FINDS HIMSELF ENMESHED WITH A FAMILY THAT IS NOT HIS OWN, AND HE FEELS LIKE HE BELONGS, AND THE LIES THAT HE TELLS AND THE SACRIFICES THAT ALL OF THEM MAKE TO MAKE THIS LIE HAPPEN.

I DON'T KNOW THAT THAT'S CHEERY.

[ LAUGHTER ]

DO YOU AS ACTORS, I'M WATCHING THIS AND THE FIRST TIME IT'S VERY EARLY ON IN THE SHOW EVERYBODY BURSTS INTO LAUGHTER.

YEAH.

AND PART OF ME WAS I ALMOST FELT GUILTY ABOUT IT.

YOI U ALL KNOW THE STORY AND WERE YOU SURPRISED AT HOW MUCH HUMOR THERE WAS AND HOW THE AUDIENCE EMBRACES THE HUMOR AND FLAT-OUT LAUGHTER?

THEY NEED TO, I THINK, WITH SUCH HEAVY MATERIAL, THE HUMOR IS SUCH -- IT'S A PART OF ALL OF US BEING ABLE TO COPE WITH THIS STORY.

JARED KLYMAN BRINGS A LIGHT-HEARTED HAND.

IF YOU HAVEN'T STARTED LAUGHING YET YOU KNOW HE'S ABOUT TO.

AND IT'S INTERESTING TO WATCH AS THE SHOW HAS DEVELOPED ITS REPUTATION, PEOPLE FEEL THAT THEY HAVE PERMISSION TO LAUGH.

WHEN THEY WERE UNCERTAIN AT FIRST, WAS THERE A LOT OF UNCER UNCERTAINTY ON THE AUDIENCE'S BEHALF AND THERE ARE DEFINITE LAUGH LINES WHERE PEOPLE WEREN'T SURE IF IT WAS APPROPRIATE TO LAUGH AND NOW THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO RESPOND HOWEVER THEY CHOOSE TO.

YOU ARE BOTH MOTHERS.

IT'S IN THE PLAYBILL, YOU BOTH TALK ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN AND IN THIS SHOW YOU'RE A MOTHER STRUGGLING WITH SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS AND WITH EVERYTHING THAT HE IS WRESTLING WITH AND IT'S NOT GIVING ANYTHING UP WITH THE LOSS OF A CHILD.

I'VE OFTEN SAID I CAN DEAL WITH ANYTHING IN MY LIFE --

EXCEPT THAT.

EXCEPT THE LOSS OF ONE OF MY TWO CHILDREN.

RACHEL, AS A MOTHER DOES PART OF YOU BEING A MOTHER COME WITH YOU ON STAGE IN TERMS OF HOW YOU PLAY THIS ROLE?

ALL OF IT.

ALL OF IT, AND BEING -- BEING THE CHILD OF A MOTHER, TOO, YOU KNOW?

BECAUSE I THINK SO MUCH OF WHAT WE DEAL WITH IN OUR ROLES AND WHAT I THINK SO MANY MOTHERS WHO COME TO SEE THE SHOW CAN RELATE TO IS THE IDEA OF IMPERFECTION, AND FORGIVENESS AND THE WAYS THAT WE STRUGGLE TO PARENT AND WE DON'T KNOW HOW OUR KIDS ARE DOING.

WE DON'T KNOW HOW WELL WE ARE DOING AND WE ARE ALWAYS SO INSECURE ABOUT OUR JOB, YOU KNOW?

AND TO BE ABLE TO LIVE THAT OUT AS AN ACTOR, TO REALLY INVESTIGATE WHAT THAT MEANS TO ME, RACHEL, AS A MOTHER AND ALSO TO UNDERSTAND MY OWN MOTHER BETTER THROUGH THE PORTRAYAL OF AN IMPERFECT PERSON, AND I THINK A LOT OF THE RESPONSE THAT WE'RE GETTING FROM THE AUDIENCE IS THAT, TOO.

I GET A LOT OF ADULT CHILDREN SAYING I'M SEEING MY MOTHER IN A WHOLE DIFFERENT WAY AFTER SEEING THIS, YOU KNOW?

ARE YOU, AS THE MOTHER WHO LOSES SOMEBODY, ARE YOU ABLE TO LEAVE THAT ON THE STAGE OR IS THERE -- WHEN YOU GET HOME IS THERE SOMETHING ABOUT IT THAT STILL TRAVELS WITH YOU.

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT YOU AS A HOST, JACK, THAT BRINGS AN EMOTION OUT THAT I'VE NOT FACED IN AN INTERVIEW BEFORE.

IT'S A VERY POIGNANT QUESTION, AND THE STRUGGLE FOR ME IS THAT I AS MOM, I CAN'T IMAGINE GOING ON WITHOUT -- WITH THE LOSS OF A CHILD, MY ONLY CHILD.

I CAN'T IMAGINE.

MY MOTHER HAS SAID THE SAME THING.

I'M ONE OF FIVE AND I ALWAYS SAID, BUT THE REST OF US, WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US?

SHE WOULD ALWAYS SAY I COULD NEVER GO ON AND THE BIG CHALLENGE IS IMAGINING THAT LIFE DOES GO ON AFTER THAT AND IT WAS THE FORGIVENESS OF EVAN, THAT ALLOWED US TO SAVE HIS LIFE.

WE LOST OUR SON, BUT BY FORGIVING EVAN WE SAVED HIS LIFE AND THAT WAS WHAT REALLY PROPELLED THAT FAMILY FORWARD.

GRAPPLING WITH THAT IDEA HAS BEEN REALLY, REALLY DIFFICULT, YOU ARE BOTH MARVELOUS, RUNNING OUT OF ADJECTIVES.

AND IN A SHOW, ONE OF THE GREAT SHOWS OF OUR GENERATION HERE AND I HOPE PEOPLE GO SEE YOU AND I WISH YOU BOTH CONTINUED SUCCESS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

HAPPY TO BE HERE.

DEAR EVAN HANSON IS PLAYING AT THE MUSIC BOX THEATER ON WEST 45th STREET.

♪ ♪

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

©2021 WNET. All Rights Reserved. 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019

WNET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 26-2810489