Call Answered: Asa Somers: "Dear Evan Hansen"
From The Rocky Horror Show to Dance of the Vampires to Taboo, to Once Around The Sun, I have been a fan of Asa Somers for more than 15 years. I have done the “Time Warp” with Asa as he did a jump to the left, then a step to the right to now being found in the Tony Award winning musical Dear Evan Hansen as the stand by for “Larry Murphy.”
I’m beyond thrilled to finally have the opportunity to speak with Asa about being in one of the biggest musicals to ever be on Broadway as well as his theatrical journey to this point.
Dear Evan Hansen plays at The Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue). Click here for tickets and follow the show at https://dearevanhansen.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
1. You are currently in the Tony Award winning musical Dear Evan Hansen as the stand-by for "Larry Murphy." What initially made you want to audition for this show? Well, I joined the show during its second incarnation, at 2nd Stage. And to be fair, I hadn't heard the buzz about Dear Evan Hansen yet. So my initial attraction to the piece was my long friendship and working relationship with Michael Greif. Dear Evan Hansen is our third Broadway production together and about our sixth or seventh "show," depending on how you count. So when he calls, I generally say yes! Also, as luck would have it, I'd just been cast in a leading role in a fantastic show in the NYC area when I got the call for Dear Evan Hansen, so I had a difficult decision to make. I'd say I chose right.
2. What do you continue to enjoy about being in this show? I'm well past the 2-1/2-year mark with Dear Evan Hansen, if you count the off-Broadway production. And I still love coming to work every single show. It's incredibly rewarding to be part of such a powerful and important piece of theater and to play such a wonderful character. And the people here are my dear friends. We've all grown pretty close.
I also love Taco Tuesdays!
3. What is one or two fun stories you can tell us about being the stand-by? Well, Michael Park is a machine and rarely misses a show. And he almost *never* misses a show at the last minute, so I haven't been pressed into service in any desperate (and exciting) way as I have in past cases. But I will tell you this: I will find it forever amusing when I'm signing Playbills at the stage door after playing “Larry” and fans say, "Way to go, Michael! You were fantastic!" and I realize, "they didn't read the program or even look at the pictures!"
This past Spring was a kooky time for me in the show, because Park was out a bunch, so I ended up playing “Larry” at Mike Faist's and Will Roland's last shows. I also got to sing on the Tony's when Michael was unavailable.
4. What do you love about being the stand-by and what challenges does it present? Being the standby is very rewarding in a different way than being in the onstage cast. For sure, the show always feels fresh, since you're faced with (sometimes) long layoffs before going on again. That's also the biggest challenge -- doing the part when you haven't been on in a while. But we've all been with the show for so long, everything is pretty much second nature now. I don't even get very nervous anymore!
5. What is something most people don't know about what the stand-by does? Besides being ready to do the role whenever the onstage actor isn't available, a standby's job is to attend weekly rehearsals during the day (generally on Thursdays and Fridays, in our case) to stay fresh or, more often these days, to help new company members get up to speed with their roles. We rehearsed a lot with Taylor, for example, before he took over for Ben and Noah, long before the onstage cast ever got a look at him. Taylor is cute.
6. What do you relate to most about "Larry"? What is one characteristic of his that you are glad you yourself do not possess? As a dad, I really get “Larry.” He loves his kids and his family deeply and he's utterly devoted to their care. And I love sports and participated in lots of athletics when I was in high school, so all the baseball references aren't lost on me.
That said, I'm glad I'm more in touch with my emotions than “Larry” is. I'm glad I express myself with my son more naturally and lovingly than “Larry” does. I think “Larry” has a lot of regrets about how things were left with “Connor” after his death.
7. The "hit" song in this show is "You Will Be Found." How has this show helped you find yourself even more? I walk to work, rain or shine, and I have to say I've lost more umbrellas during this production than ever before in my life. It sure didn't help me find *them*!
8. Like "Evan Hansen," if you had to write letters to yourself about why each day would be good, what are your top 5 reasons it's good to be in Dear Evan Hansen?
5. Seeing Judy our PSM try to sing the high notes of various roles when an actor is missing for rehearsal. Hilarious!
4. Getting to meet Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and (gulp) Katy Perry in the Blue Room after the show.
3. Singing "Waving" backstage along with Evan, high B-flats for days. Daddy still gots it!
2. Seeing our show on the side of every bus in the City.
1. My castmates.
9. I've had the pleasure of seeing you in The Rocky Horror Show, Dance of the Vampires, Taboo, and Once Around The Sun. How do you feel these shows prepared you for your experience in Dear Evan Hansen? Well, I wouldn't be the actor I am without those formative experiences, and I'm very proud of the variety of roles I've had the pleasure and honor of playing. But let's just say that “Hedwig” and “Boy George” pose slightly different challenges than “Larry” does! But those roles helped me prepare for Dear Evan Hansen in so many ways. I'm a much better actor than I was just a few years ago, but I'm also a better company member and castmate.
I take notes better, I collaborate better, I'm more patient onstage and off, and I'm much more grateful to be here doing what I love to do as a job. How lucky am I?
10. For this final question, I want to play with some of the song titles from the other shows I've seen you in.
Let's start with The Rocky Horror Show. If you could do the "Time Warp" to anywhere, where would you want to go to? The dawn of civilization, to see how it all began. And then far in the future, to see how it all ends.
My favorite song from Dance of the Vampires was "Garlic." What's your favorite Garlic dish? Garlic Chicken Pizza at CPK!
In Taboo, I love the song "Petrified." What's is something you are afraid of? Not a fan of plane travel.
Finally, “Once Around The Sun” is the title song of the show. What is the biggest lesson you've learned so far from your trip around the sun? Trust science.
More on Asa:
Broadway: Next To Normal, Grey Gardens, Taboo, Dance of the Vampires, The Rocky Horror Show, Off-Broadway/Regional: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Dear Evan Hansen, Next to Normal, The Burnt Part Boys, Once Around The Sun, Fly By Night (Dallas), Tallgrass Gothic (Louisville), TV: Mr. Robot, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Unforgettable, White Collar, Person of Interest, Elementary, Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, Gossip Girl, Royal Pains, Ugly Betty, Law & Order: SVU, The Sopranos. Yale Graduate.