For his first professional stage role, Marcus Harman has been playing Alternate Evan in the original West End cast of Dear Evan Hansen at the Noël Coward Theatre, also understudying the roles of Connor Murphy and Jared Kleinman, with the show currently on hold for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19. At this year’s Olivier Awards, Dear Evan Hansen has received seven nomations, including Best New Musical and Original Score/New Orchestration. Marcus was previously part of the National Youth Music Theatre, performing in many of their productions at The Other Palace and while theatres have been closed, he has recorded a song with Hayley Canham for her new project Medea the Musical. We chatted to Marcus about booking his first professional role of Alternate Evan Hansen, rehearsing for the musical in New York and his time with NYMT.
How did you feel booking your first professional stage role as Alternate Evan in Dear Evan Hansen at the Noël Coward?
It felt incredible. I had completely fallen in love with the show and the role of Evan and I have never wanted anything so badly. It was a life-changing phone call when I was told that I was going to be a part of this production.
What was the experience like on your debut performance in the role of Evan?
My first show was thrilling. I was terrified and still getting used to all the moving set pieces, but getting to tell this story to an audience for the first time was incredibly special and I’m so grateful to everyone onstage and off at the Noël Coward Theatre who supported me through my West End debut. I didn’t invite anyone I knew to come watch; so the first show was just for me.
Can you say about being Understudy Connor Murphy and Jared Kleinman and what the roles were like to learn?
It’s such a fun acting challenge to play a broad range of characters within the same show. I hope one day I get to go on with Sam (Tutty) because we’ve never been on stage together.
What did you know about the show before auditioning and how did you prepare for the role?
I knew everything there was to know about this show before auditioning. Evan is and was a big dream role for me and I spent such a long time trying to get comfortable with the challenging vocal score before auditioning.
The cast rehearsed in New York last year, how was this?
Rehearsing in New York, in Broadway rehearsal rooms, was incredibly surreal. Sam and I spent a week together in New York rehearsing before the rest of the cast joined and it felt like a Dear Evan Hansen summer camp. We all made friends with the Broadway cast and had so much fun.
What are you enjoying most about being part of the original West End cast?
Getting to introduce this show to a new audience has been incredible. The West End fans have been so welcoming and lovely. Working with my incredible castmates is the greatest honour and privilege. We got to work closely with the original creative team who are all huge idols of mine and I have learnt so much from them.
Can you say what it’s like having the musical be nominated in a number of categories at this year’s Olivier Awards?
I can’t believe that we got seven nominations! I’m so glad the incredible talent in our show is getting recognised. I am so proud of our show and I have always watched and coveted the Oliviers so to have our show be so enthusiastically received is thrilling. I hope it means more people will discover our beautiful musical.
Having been part of the National Youth Music Theatre, can you tell us about some of the shows you’ve performed in with them?
I have been so lucky to be a small part of some incredible productions with NYMT. I am a Sondheim fanatic and I was lucky enough to be involved in their production of Sunday in the Park with George, I workshopped a new musical which was an adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and I was introduced to the incredible Jason Robert Brown show Parade two years ago which I was lucky enough to be a part of. We performed all of these at The Other Palace theatre which was pretty special.
Why would you recommend young actors join NYMT?
It’s a brilliant institution that treats you like a professional and introduces you to the best, hard-working, young, talented actors who will become your closest friends and push you to be better.
We understand you’ve been recording songs for Hayley Canham’s new production Medea the Musical, what has this been like to do?
Hayley is brilliant; she writes such interesting music. I have recorded a vocal on her song Way Out which people should be able to hear soon. Her music is haunting and has an emotional fragility that is compelling – her voice is incredible too so you should look out for her.
How did you get into an acting career and had you always wanted to be a performer?
I’ve always had a connection to theatre and music. My family runs a small theatre in the countryside and growing up around performance and the exciting madness behind the scenes was a huge influence. It’s still so unbelievable to me that I get to act in the West End.
What would you say is your favourite aspect of working in theatre?
There are too many parts I love; the community, the ritual of going to the theatre every day, the challenge of performing our demanding but incredibly rewarding show. I miss everything.
Do you have any favourite theatre shows to watch?
I watch the PBS Great Performances original production of Sunday in the Park with George on YouTube far too often.
When you aren’t performing, what do you enjoy doing?
I love running, reading, and drawing; I spend a lot of time in galleries. I love the Victoria and Albert museum. During quarantine I have been getting into yoga, painting, tailoring, DIY, piano and guitar. I think everyone has picked up new hobbies.
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