‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Puts Ben Levi Ross to the Ultimate Test
For Ben Levi Ross it’s the same morning routine; get over the emotional hangover from his role on ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ by meditation, stretching, and a rather unique beverage, and step back on stage.
Playing the role of Evan Hansen in “Dear Evan Hansen” has been tasking, and it has pushed the 21-year-old to his limit.
“It has not been easy,” Ross says. “It is an emotional ordeal, that pushes the body, and mind to its limit. Your body is subjected to various extremes, and this affects your outlook on life.”
“Dear Evan Hansen,” tells the story of high school senior with a broken arm which is looking for connection. In 2017, it won a Tony Award for best musical. Ross who has been playing the role of Evan Hansen for close to a year has really taken the role to heart.
“He gets into the role like its nothing, and he is ready to go,” says Jessica Phillips, who stars as Evan’s overworked single mom, Heidi.
The story follows Ross’ character as he gets lured into a lie revolving around his classmate’s suicide. The show sheds tremendous light on morality, and the sense of loneliness even in this age of superconnectivity. With book by Steven Levenson, and a rather contemporary score from Oscar winners Beni Pasek, and Justin Paul, the show delivers on so many areas.
Michael Greif, the director of “Dear Evan Hansen,” first spotted Ross during his audition for a different show. Ross who was just stepping out of his freshman year at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh booked in a gig in the summer of 2017 as a Broadway understudy for a variety roles including; Evan, Connor, Jared. His breakthrough came in during the show’s first tour.
The role of Evan is really tasking, and it has been known to be one of the most demanding roles on Broadway. The role earned Ben Platt a Tony Award, and he was on record saying the show pushed him to his limits.
“Hearing Ben Platt say how difficult the role was for him, made me realize how tasking things could be,” Ross says. “And because of the demands of the show, you have to be still and silent for the most part of the morning leading up to the show. It pushes you on various levels.”
Unlike the four actors who have played the role of Evan full time, only Ross has gone on tour with the role.
“His stamina is second to none, and it has been more than what any other Evan has done on Broadway,” Phillip says. “He has owned the role and adapted to the various changes needed at every theater.”
Ross has had to adapt to the demands of the role. He has had to save his energy by becoming less restless. “Looking back now, I can say I hated how I was early on. I left stage completely empty. Whatsoever I did early on was unsustainable and I am happy I changed things a bit.”
“As an artist, this has to be the work that has tasked me the most physically, and mentally,” Ross says. “My experiences on set have prepped me for anything that will come my way in the future.”