CMU School of Drama

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Jennifer Laura Thompson on “Dear Evan Hansen”

THE INTERVAL: The musical Dear Evan Hansen has become one of the hits of the 2016/2017 Broadway season. Part of the appeal of the musical is that it takes easily recognizable suburban archetypes and gives them depth and surprising twists. One such character is Cynthia, a mother whose son commits suicide and then finds herself enmeshed in Evan’s deceptions. Cynthia is played by actress Jennifer Laura Thompson. Jennifer made a splash in 2002 in Urinetown, for which she received a Tony nomination. She then replaced Kristin Chenoweth in Wicked, and most recently, prior to Dear Evan Hansen, appeared in Nice Work if You Can Get It. We recently talked with her about playing Cynthia, the role social media plays in Dear Evan Hansen, being a working mother, and more.


Annie Scheuermann said...

I recently saw Dear Evan Hansen and really enjoyed the show. It certainly is one of the first shows that feels current and tries to tackle the many emotions in current social society. I liked reading Jennifer Thompson's thoughts, as often it is only the main character that you hear from. When I saw the production I really related more to the parents than I thought I would, and I liked how the focus was not solely on the title character. I still think about the message of the show and what it is trying to say, and I like how Thompson addresses the wide variety of topics the show covers. It is not just about suicide or social media or feeling isolated or mental health it is so much rolled up into one show, and I think that is part of the success of it, because life is based on all these elements interacting and not just one thing - which happens often in theater.

Emily Lawrence said...

I was very lucky and was able to get a ticket to this show when I was in New York about three months ago, and I am so grateful. It was such an amazing show all around and it is easy to understand how it has become one of the most popular shows. I do love how this article phrased the appeal of this show, “it takes easily recognizable suburban archetypes and gives them depth and surprising twists”. I think everyone who has seen these archetypes and seen how wonderful their lives seem to be would absolutely love this show. It is just difficult to picture, to me at least, anything going arry for them when they seem to have everything together one hundred percent of the time. It made me look at things in a different way for sure. I also love that she was worried about her character being overlooked, because I was so incredibly drawn to her side of the story. I sympathized for every single character in that show, which is not something I have ever been able to say before. I truly fell in love with this show and the message that it shared.

Zak Biggins said...

I was fortunate enough to see the highly revered original broadway production of Dear Evan Hansen. From the moment the downbeat began to play, I was captivated. Ben Platt has an emotional vulnerability that is like no other. As soon as he begins to sing the widely reputed song, "Waving Through a Window" he begins to create this physicality of a distressed teenager with severe anxiety. (Although he does it with complete grace and non offensively). The show had me weeping the entire time. However, as I look back on the production and I have been more removed, the less I am starting to like the show. I mean structurally, the entire show is about one character and all the rest are there to support the lead. There were some standout, in my opinion, Rachel Bay Jones should and will be nominated for a Tony Award because her portrayal of the mother was insanely impressive. Overall, I would absolutely recommend the show to anyone!

Evan Schild said...

I was able to see Dear Evan Hansen during winter break and it was truly incredible. I recommended anyone and everyone to go see this show. It is such a powerful piece and extremely relent to my generation. The mom played by Jennifer is an extremely hard part to play. Within the first couple of scenes she has to deal with the fact that her son committed suicide. This must be so emotional draining to have to go through this very night. What I thought was interesting is how much work they did on their characters and families background. I think it is so important for this show to have a background because very quickly the family is destroyed. They need to know what happened before and what the family was like before everything bad had happened to them. I cannot wait to see if Jennifer gets any nominations because everyone in the cast could be nominated for a tony!

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