GLAMoms had the opportunity to speak with Jessica Sherman, from DEAR EVAN HANSEN! Jessica plays Evan’s mom in this Tony Award winning Broadway musical that has been touring the United States and will be at Wharton Center this week.
How did you get into theater?
I was studying classical music and sort of fell into music theater on the side and kept it a bit secret because it was a classical program and I really loved it. They traveled to England and studied for 3 years and stayed there for another 10.
Where are you from?
I am from Toronto.
How long have you been with this tour?
I am with the original Toronto production. The first international production started and when that closed – check dates – July 2019 and then the tour started after and joined the tour and did about 6 months of the tour before covid struck us down and then we waited and waited and waited and Stacy our producer was very clear she was going to bring us all back if at all she could.
This is technically the second half of my first year on the tour with a big interruption in the middle. Involved with the show since 2019
Age range of company members?
Some have just graduated from college or university and hesitate to guess the age of us parental types – but there is a range of ages with company members. And there are no children.
Please tell our readers a little bit about DEAR EVAN HANSEN!
It is not a traditional music theater piece which is to benefit. I think of it more as a play with a significant amount of very catchy songs. It is funny, lighthearted and some romance – lighter things you would associate with music theater but it is dealing with some very big issues.
It is the kind of piece that is a big conversation piece with families. People reach out after and say they really needed a way to talk about these issues with my children and this show opened the door to this type of conversation. It deals with social anxiety, teens who feel isolated from their peers, or from their parents. There are tragedies within it. It deals with the darker sides of being a teenager.
A lot of parents have said it was a very valuable way for them to start conversations with their children. And likewise I definitely have had youth that have reached out to me, and say, “oh my gosh this is exactly the conversation I have to have with my mom, thank you.” It is entertaining but also valuable.
We have children who are just entering – or almost entering – their teenage years, is DEAR EVAN HANSEN appropriate for this age group?
Kids are so different. I had a friend who brought her 12-year-old and he was absolutely engaged with it. He was on the cusp of going through some of these issues that our play deals with. He was struggling socially and not sure where he was fitting in the world around him.
This show is great because everyone seems to represent themselves in one way or another and young people who are struggling I think see themselves and they see themselves positively. It depends on the child. There are some swears and that should be known.
There is a lot of technology in it. We do not mention anything specific (ie. TikTok, etc) yet it still is very connected and resonates with many people. It has not outgrown the technology yet. And especially after the pandemic and all of the social isolation we had with that and the whole messaging of are relationships through a screen – what is their value versus real life – which is scarier actually. Is it scarier that your social persona can snowball and take over your life or is it scarier to have a real conversation with your mother about what is going on and let’s talk about why both of those are both terrifying and try to help navigate those things.
GLAMoms checked with the Wharton Center and the show is recommended for audiences members 12 and above.
What part do you play in DEAR EVAN HANSEN?
I play Evan’s mom. She means so well. She is a mom that is just trying so darn hard and as everybody does, she fails. Not everyday and not in every way but we all fail. And speaking of being represented, I am a caregiver and I fail all the darn time. It is lovely to portray this.
She is not a hero. She is not perfect. She is trying. She is a single mom who is studying to be a paralegal on the side. She thinks she has her son figured out and she is doing the things that are enough and that are helping… and she misses. She misses little signs and little things and she screws up and could anything be more normal and true?
What is your favorite line (or lyrics) from DEAR EVAN HANSEN?
There are so many. It is a wonderfully written book. There is certainly one at the end but it is a bit of a spoiler – my particular favorite line to say every night – A message of hope and potential of the world at the end… you will have to wait and see it.
What is your pre show routine?
Coffee.. But first, a nap before is vital. The show itself takes a bit of time – I have a wig and makeup so the process of doing that gets you in the headspace for doing it there is an order and inself becomes a ritual.
The whole company gets together and stands in a circle – we used to hug – now we are spaced out a bit and we do 3 communal breaths together. This is very nice and centers us all and all on the same rhythm.
Then a very good cup of coffee in my dressing room.
What are some must haves while you travel to make it feel more like home?
Yes! Keeping in the coffee theme, I have a collapsible kettle.
It can be very disconcerting being on the road like this and it can be a bit of a gamble when you show up where you are staying and don’t know what it is going to be like. I have found smells to be comforting. A diffuser gives a settling feeling once I get that olfactory thing when something smells familiar.
I travel with an electric blanket – sometimes not even plugged in and pillowcase.
It certainly adds to the settling in time on a traveling day but it is helpful.
I also like to cook so I stay in a place where there is a kitchen. I enjoy the ritual of cooking and the meal I made myself is very stabilizing.
Have there been any favorite cities you have visited traveling for DEAR EVAN HANSEN?
We are in Madison right now – what a cute little town and enjoying it. Providence was great – actually I have not been to any of the stops before and I have found little charms in each. It has been a really interesting experience to travel America like this for me as a Canadian.
Anything to do at every stop?
Find a good coffee. That is what I like about these little towns is I like to find a local, tiny we brew and roast our own, grind our own coffee house and someone is making their own syrups in the back and a little barista that does art for you. That is what I love to find at every place. And then stock up on beans for a bit.
I know Stephanie La Rochelle who plays Zoe Murphy. She collects stickers for her guitar case from everywhere and is fun but it takes much organization
Jessica – thank you! We look forward to DEAR EVAN HANSEN performance at Wharton Center!
If you would like tickets or more information about Wharton Center, current COVID requirements and to purchase tickets list Wharton Center HERE.