A Letter, a Lie, and the Role of a Lifetime: Alaina Anderson in Dear Evan Hansen

Anthony Norman and Alaina Anderson in the 2022-2023 North American Tour of DEAR EVAN HANSEN. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Alaina Anderson is loving her time on the national tour of Dear Evan Hansen. Anderson is making her professional debut in the role of Zoe Murphy. The Yale grad shared her thoughts on life on the road and how she applies her degree in Cognitive Science to her acting.

Dear Evan Hansen will play August 16–28, 2022 at the Shubert Organization’s Forrest Theatre as part of the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ and The Shubert Organization’s Broadway series

Debra Danese: How did the role of Zoe come onto your radar?

Alaina Anderson: I heard some of the music when the show first gained a lot of buzz in 2016-17. I honestly never thought it was a show I’d ever have a place in until I got the audition request for the Zoe/Alana understudy spot. It wasn’t until after booking that job that I really allowed myself to fall in love with the role, and allowed myself to hope I could play it full time one day.

DD: What aspects of touring came as a surprise to you?

AA: How much I’d love it! I was excited to travel, but I didn’t realize at the start just how much joy there was to be found in touring- both in giving and receiving.  It’s really fulfilling to be able to bring this show and this story to people who might not have an opportunity to see it otherwise. There is always so much to see and do in every city; especially ones I may not have heard of or thought about visiting without the tour. It really deepens your appreciation for the cultures and communities that exist across the country. It’s also just really fun to get to travel and do theatre with friends! Everyone in the company is so supportive and so delightful to be around. It makes traveling and performing that much easier.

Alaina Anderson

DD: What’s the most challenging moment in the show for you?

AA: The final scene between Zoe and Evan. It’s my favorite scene to do. There is something so special about getting to stand across from someone and simply connect with them on stage. It’s a difficult scene because of how much emotional vulnerability it requires. I’ve been lucky to have had incredibly grounded and generous scene partners in every Evan I’ve worked with.

DD: In what ways are you able to apply your degree in Cognitive Science to your acting?

AA: I love cognitive science for a lot of the same reasons I love acting. At the end of the day, they’re both about figuring out what makes people tick! I enjoy getting to examine the text and characters through an academic lens from time to time; particularly in a show like this that deals with very psychological issues- suicide, complex family dynamics, human connection on- and off-line. I think any non-theatre experience, academic or otherwise, can be valuable for actors. Those experiences widen your worldview. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings first and actors second. Oftentimes, the more of yourself and your experiences you can bring to a character, the richer your performance will be.

DD: Who was the last person you wrote a letter to?

AA: Probably myself! I’ve been an avid journal-er since high school. Since taking to the road, I’ve come to rely on journaling even more as a way to stay grounded and document this wild, wonderful adventure.

[Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut Street] August 16–28, 2022; kimmelculturalcampus.org

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