Dear Evan Hansen’s Andrew Barth Feldman: The 16-year-Old Poised to Take Broadway by Storm
Broadway, hold onto your hats – there’s a new sheriff in town! His name is Andrew Barth Feldman, he is just 16 years old, straight out of high school, and ready to act his age. But don’t let the notion that he is an inexperienced performer cross your mind for one second. Sure, his Broadway debut for the title role of Dear Evan Hansen is his first lease on professional acting, but the young prospect has been acting all his life – he even founded his own theatre company at 12.
In an exchange with Broadway Direct, the immensely talented teenager from Long Island noted that “I have never been in a process where literally the show is my job.” Starting January 30 at the Music Box Theatre, Feldman inherits the title role from 29-year-old Taylor Trensch. In relation to his youth and being the first actual teen to play Evan Hansen, he notes, “I’m really excited to bring authenticity to Evan. There are going to be differences in every Evan because we’re all just different people, as it is a reflection of who we are inside.”
A Dream Comes True
“Pinch me!” Feldman admitted that he still can’t believe the turn of events since his childhood dream came true in June. It was during The Jimmy Awards held at the Minskoff Theatre (home to The Lion King) when Feldman performed “Goodbye” from Catch Me if You Can to an audience of 100 of his fellow high school competitors, producers and casting agents. As you can already guess, Feldman won the competition and a $10,000 college scholarship.
To Feldman’s luck, Stacey Mindich, the lead producer of Dear Even Hansen happened to be in the crowd. Mindich was so fascinated by the performance of Feldman that she immediately reached out to Tara Rubin, the musical’s casting director. Within days of earning the Jimmy Award, Feldman was auditioning for the role of his dreams. “There’s nothing more exciting than discovering young talent…Evan is such a complex role — and one that is difficult cast,” director Michael Greif says.
During the winter break, Feldman closed one chapter in his life and opened the next, when he parted ways with Lawrence Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, New York, for private tutoring and stage rehearsals. When asked about his thoughts on leaving his friends and classmates, Feldman showed some mixed emotions (as expected of anyone). “I do miss it. But I am sort of getting that with the cast of Dear Evan Hansen. To work with them and be a part of that is really special.”
Feldman already accepted that he will have to miss junior prom and even his high school musical production of Aida. “I don’t feel like I am missing out on much. I’ve known most of these kids since kindergarten. I feel like I’ve had the full experience I need as a teenager and I don’t feel that I’m not a normal teenager, like Macaulay Culkin or something. I am very much still a kid, but I just happen to be doing this incredible thing.”
Although Feldman has been in the theatre scene for as long as anyone can remember, performing on Broadway is a new challenge all together. He has to follow a strict diet, omitting dairy and following a tight schedule that requires stamina (a quality he is all too familiar with). “We do the show maybe once or twice. I just don’t think we realize how much of the process is making sure that the stamina is there,” he explains of his prior hometown theater experiences. Regardless of his busy schedule, Feldman’s mum plans to attend all his shows in February. He is currently paired with Liz Kaplan (a voice coach) to keep his vocal cords smooth and healthy.
As Feldman preps himself to be the next big star in Broadway, we can only wish him the best of luck. Feldman trusted his gut at The Jimmy’s and he is poised to have more opportunities as he grows into the star he was born to be. He is not sure whether he will go to college. The teenager is in a “sort of ‘we’ll see what happens’ mode. I’m quite literally living my dreams, and I’m doing everything I have ever wanted to do.”