Saturday, April 1, 2023

Sam Primack tells the Wharton Center, "You Will Be Found"

May 19, 2022
Courtesy of the Wharton Center
Courtesy of the Wharton Center —

A long-time member of the Dear Evan Hansen family, playing the titular and ever-moving role of Evan Hansen, Sam Primack has found himself enamored with the show for years, as many audiences do nationwide, including at the Wharton Center from May 17-22.

Being able to stand-in as the alternative Evan Hansen on the tour has been a dream come true to Primack, especially when he discovered the show as many others did: online and when it was an exploding phenomenon across the Broadway community.

"I was in eighth grade (or) the beginning of high school and I remember hearing ‘Waving Through A Window’ for the first time and just being like ‘What is this song? What is going on there?’ I remember hearing about it through the grapevine," Primack said. "I remember when the soundtrack released, waiting up until midnight listening to ‘For Forever’ and all the songs, not knowing anything about the story, but immediately connecting to the characters and the message.”

Now, Primack is able to live out the story that he first heard and related to in his early teen years.

“All these years later, I feel really grateful that we’re able to tell the story all over the country," Primack said. "It’s an amazing piece and we have such a great cast, and I feel really lucky to be a part of it.”

While Primack commented that it has been hard to live out of a suitcase and pack up every week for another location, getting to the next theater always brings a contagious excitement to the whole cast.

“There’s a certain specialness with being able to share the story to communities that haven’t been able to hear it yet … being able to be in the audience in your hometown with other people that you know, laughing and crying, soaking in the singing and the acting,” Primack said.

Primack also spoke on the challenges, but the equal feeling of love he holds for playing the emotionally-demanding character of Evan Hansen.

“This part is one of the biggest challenges I have ever had to do," Primack said. "Every day it feels like a monster or a marathon that you just have to sort of overcome and get on the ride, but once you get off, the rewards are amazing."

Primack likes to focus on the audience's response when inspiring him to continue bodying the role of Evan, which he explains have been unbelievably positive across the country.

“The fans really connect with the character of Evan and what he goes through," Primack said. "The show is really special because everyone can see different characters in the piece, but I think there is a special quality that Evan has that everyone connects to. I feel really fortunate I get to be that person.”

Primack said that "For Forever" was his favorite moment in the musical, explaining that the song was both simple and heartfelt, truly connecting the fans to the storytelling Evan is portraying. The audience is able to feel the emotions of the scene in real-time along with the character.

“The show at its core is really about connection and all our needs to connect, especially in this age of social media and age where we all feel really disconnected," Primack said.

He also explained that performing in a college town was special because the deep emotions such as loneliness and anxiety that are portrayed on stage are especially relevant to young adults in the Michigan State age range, and could connect the show further to those in the audience at the Wharton Center.

“If you are struggling and if you are needing a place where you can sort of grieve some of those feelings and feel understood and feel represented, Dear Evan Hansen is 100% the right place for that,” Primack said.

Primack points towards the themes that the show portrays such as the repeated line in "You Will Be Found" that explains "you are not alone," and the room for forgiveness and change in the human condition at the end of the musical for messages to take away from the thematically-heavy musical.

“The characters are…really human in that way because we all go through periods of time where there are hardships and there are struggles, but at the end, there is a light…at the end of the tunnel,” Primack said.

Primack explained that the show was made for everyone, with extremely fun and extremely touching moments, bringing all elements of theater to the stage across the country with this cast, along with Primack being grateful to lead the pack in lots of their shows.

“I think this show has a little bit of everything. It's incredibly funny," Primack said. "Some of the jokes in the show still make me laugh to this day. It’s moving. You’re definitely going to want to bring your tissues, but at the end, you feel empowered. You feel inspired. It’s everything that a theater experience should be.”

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