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Noah Galvin Returns to His Theater Roots in ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

December 11, 2017 by Suzy Evans
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Photographed by Nathan Johnson

When Noah Galvin saw Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway for the first time, he wasn’t having a great day. As he was picking up his tickets, he received a call informing him that his TV show, The Real O’Neals, had been cancelled. He went backstage after the show, still feeling down, and mentioned the news to Ben Platt, his friend and the then-star of the show. Learning of his new availability, Platt asked Galvin: Do you want to take over the role when I leave?

Galvin was unsure at the time, but after auditioning and landing the part, Galvin is the first actor after Platt to step into the iconic blue-striped polo and khakis as the anxious teen trapped in a lie in the musical, by Justin Paul, Benj Pasek, and Steven Levenson and directed by Michael Greif. Galvin stars in the musical through Feb. 4, 2018.

“[Evan Hansen] has a lot of layers,” Galvin says. “I’m excited to start figuring out this character for myself.”

Relaxing on a couch at Drift Studio in Chelsea before the photo shoot, the gregarious Galvin speaks with a wry humor and confidence beyond his 23 years. While he doesn’t struggle with anxiety in the same way as the character, Galvin does see another parallel. He’s extremely close with his mom, much like Evan is, and he understands navigating that “intense bond.”

“After my parents’ split, my siblings were both in college, and I really only lived full-time with my mom. I very much know what it’s like to be the only child in the house with a single mom,” he says, adding that he has a great relationship with his dad, unlike Evan. “You are best friend, confidante, sometimes therapist, and above all, child. I think even my mom and I had to find that balance.”

Galvin moved to New York City from Westchester with his mom after his freshman year of high school and enrolled at the Professional Performing Arts School, while his mom opened a yoga studio. He’s been a working actor for most of his life, from playing Gavroche in the national tour of Les Misérables when he was 10 to being the little boy in “basically every reading of a musical.”

But he “fell out of love with musical theater” when he was 16 and made a name for himself performing in downtown, Off-Broadway shows.

Dear Evan Hansen marks Galvin’s Broadway debut and his “resurgence” and “re-entrance” into the musicals.

Dear Evan Hansen is single-handedly rekindling my love for musical theater,” Galvin says, though he jokes that he was “slapped across the face by the musical theater gods” when he sang through the pop-infused and vocally demanding score for the first time.

After portraying a gay teenager who comes out to his conservative, Irish Catholic family on The Real O’Neals, Galvin has experience assuaging the fears of nervous parents and struggling kids, and he would encourage Evan and those who might identify with him to be brave and be themselves.

“I feel as though I grew up fast, and though I’m better for it, I think a lot of kids feel the need to prove to somebody they want to impress, or to themselves, that they are more learned or sophisticated or ready for things they simply aren’t,” he says. “It’s important to feel the freedom to speak up in the moments where they are feeling pressure to be someone they’re not.”

Styled by Drew Jessup

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