He’s 16 Going On Stardom: Meet Broadway’s Next ‘Evan Hansen’ | Modern Society of USA

He’s 16 Going On Stardom: Meet Broadway’s Next ‘Evan Hansen’

He’s 16 Going On Stardom: Meet Broadway’s Next ‘Evan Hansen’

The composer of “Be More Chill,” Joe Iconis, said he met Andrew in 2017, when the teenager was performing as Roger in a youth theater production of “Rent” that Mr. Iconis’s brother was directing. “It was truly insane watching that kid sing ‘One Song Glory’ as well as I’ve ever heard it sung ever,” he said. “He’s some sort of insane musical theater creature who has a preternatural ability to perform.”

The theater company Andrew founded — called Zneefrock after the name Andrew made up for the aliens at the now-closed space-themed restaurant Mars 2112 — began as his bar mitzvah project. He wanted to hold a one-night cabaret to raise money for autism research, because one of his cousins is on the autism spectrum.

That evening of “Les Misérables” and “Wicked” medleys held at the school theater was so successful, drawing theater kids, their families and fans that it became an annual event, with each one more ambitious, and raising more money for charity, than the one before. There was the “Star Wars” parody musical, which Andrew wrote with a friend; a minimalist reimagining of “Seussical”; and, last summer, a production of “Be More Chill” (yes, they managed to stage the show before it arrives on Broadway this winter).

And then, most impressively, last fall Zneefrock staged Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last Five Years,” which is a beloved two-hander about the rise and fall of an unsuccessful marriage, with a different gender configuration at each performance — boy-girl, girl-boy, boy-boy and girl-girl — to see how the show’s complex romantic dynamic might shift.

Now Andrew’s life is all Evan.

He said his house suddenly looks as if it was decorated by Ms. Mindich because there is so much stuff bearing the show’s signature color. “It’s like, everything is blue now,” he said.

He has vowed to stop eating dairy (hard when chocolate milk is still a dietary staple), and started drinking a lot of tea (plus water, water, and water). He’s rehearsing up to five hours a day, six days a week. And he’s thinking about Evan.

“Who is this person, separated from the performances that I’ve seen?” he asks himself as he delves deeper and deeper into the role. “I learn a bunch of new things about him every day, every rehearsal, every time I sit down and look at the script. And I’m going to find him.”

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