Next week, one of my Broadway’s most acclaimed shows ever will come to Calgary for the first time ever. Dear Evan Hansen will play at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium from February 18th to 23rd, and when it does, I think you’ll quickly understand why it won six Tony Awards when it debuted in NYC a few years ago.

After a recent run in Toronto, the touring production of the show took it’s mostly Canadian cast on a tour of North America, including Sudbury-native Alessandro Costantini, who stars as Evan’s cousin and comedic relief Jared.

During the show’s recent run in Dallas, Texas, I actually got a chance to see the show and meet with some of the cast afterwards for some interviews.

Despite the show’s heavy themes, Alessandro talks about the role of the comic relief and what he hopes audiences take away from the show.

Mike: You’ve always been involved with theater. Do you have your own production company?

Alessandro: I do. I have a company that I run in Sudbury called Yes Theater and we just celebrated our 10th anniversary last year.

Mike: Congratulations. Did you start it when you were nine?

Alessandro: Pretty much, yeah. I started it when I was very young.

Mike: How do you navigate being an actor and running your company?

Alessandro: Yeah, that’s been really challenging I’ve found. When we were doing a show in Toronto, it was our 10th anniversary and I was able to really get a really great team of people. And I’m a firm believer that really strong theater needs to be done in communities all over the world, right? Not just kind of epicenters like Toronto, which is why doing this tour has been so wonderful, because I’ve been able to be a part of something that is having a really profound impact on these people.

Mike: Good for you. So tell me about Dear Evan Hansen.  I sorta describe it as a secret show, because you can’t really tell people what it’s about. What is a nugget that people can take away as they’re thinking about coming to Dear Evan Hansen? What should they know about the show?

Alessandro: Yeah, well I think the one thing that you could count on is being very moved and the show has a lot of heart. It also has a lot of comedy, a little bit thanks to me. Actually, everyone gets a lot of big laughs.

Mike: Yeah, there are. But you bring the laughs for sure.

Alessandro: But I think it’s just riveting. The narrative is really, you’re watching it, you kind of can’t believe that it’s happening as it’s happening. So it really hooks you. And it is a story about connection. There’s eight characters in the play and they all are kind of broken in their own way, looking for connection, looking for a way to figure out the complications of life?

Mike: Do you find, do you naturally gravitate towards comedy roles?

Alessandro: Yeah, it’s interesting. This is the first, I mean, I did, I went to the George Brown Theater School in Toronto and I did some comedy there. But I think in terms of my professional career, not really. This is kind of the first bigger comedic role, which I’m finding tremendously challenging, especially in a really long run. It’s really interesting, And every audience is different, especially on tour. There’s different cultures that inform what people think is funny and you’re always fine tuning. I find it really, really hard, but really, really awesome.

Mike: The emotional impact of the show, is that something you carry with you as a person, knowing that the show has emotional consequences for the audience after they leave?

Alessandro: Absolutely. I mean, we go to the stage door and there’s fans who share their stories with us and really, really deeply personal stories. We do feel a responsibility to the story and to the people who have been affected by the themes. But I think the way that we kind of keep positive through it is that we all really love each other. We have a really, really strong company. There’s about 50 of us on tour between the crew and the stage management team and the cast and everyone’s really lovely. And we try to keep it pretty light. And we laugh a lot at each other when we’re not on stage, so that everyone is really able to bring it.

Mike: You did this show in Toronto, then you’ve done the tour through the U.S. Now you’re coming back. You’ve been away for a little bit. What are you excited about seeing when you come back?

Alessandro: Well, I’ve never been to Calgary or Vancouver or Edmonton.

Mike: Oh my gosh. 

Alessandro: I’m super excited. I’ve spent most of my time just in Ontario and on the East coast. But I got to say, the one thing I’m most excited for is to have a Caesar.

Mike: Oh yeah. They were invented in Calgary.

Alessandro: Oh really. Okay. Well then I hope to get good Caesar in Calgary. So that I’m really excited for. And just to be home.

Mike: Well, we’re excited to have you back!

For ticket and show info, visit the Dear Evan Hansen website.

Mike Morrison