The touring cast of hit Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen” graced Pittsburgh audiences with their talent and profundity this May. Despite the mistakes and misunderstandings made by the lonely and desperate protagonist, Evan Hansen, the assurance that serves as the musical’s theme, “you will be found,” is more potent than any misdirection.
Among the droves that filled Heinz Hall were nineteen students accompanied by three chaperones from Union High School. The Humanities Ladder program enables students to attend and participate in cultural experiences, thus expanding their imaginations, knowledge, and introducing them to new passions. The trip was funded by grants provided through Grable, PNC, and the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the Center’s Humanities Ladder Program.
What might a musical matinee provide for young students? For some in the group, this field trip was their first time in Pittsburgh. The students got to be more than passive observers. In the morning, they had a private tour of Heinz History Center where they learned how immigrants impacted the formation of Pittsburgh
Following lunch, they attended a pre-show talk with two members of the “Dear Evan Hansen” cast, including the actress who played the role of Zoe Murphy that afternoon. The students had the opportunity to ask the cast members questions and learn about the behind-the-scenes process of putting on a musical and touring the country. Most of the students in the group were thespians themselves and enthusiastic to hear the insights and experiences of professional actresses.
The performing arts provide a unique space for storytelling – a space in which audience and cast members alike find themselves represented and understood. As such a powerful medium, it is truly a valuable thing to give young students opportunities to think about, question, and enjoy the arts.