Zachary Noah Piser is making Broadway history for being the first Asian American actor to take on the title role of Evan full-time in “Dear Evan Hansen.”
The Filipino American actor, who describes himself as a “Queer Asian Jew,” is taking over the role from Ben Levi Ross beginning on Tuesday at the Music Box Theatre in New York City. He is set to play the role through Aug. 7.
Piser has been part of several productions of the popular musical. In 2019, he first played the Evan alternate in Toronto and played the Evan alternate on Broadway in recent productions.
“Being the first Asian American actor to tell Evan’s story means everything to me, and I hope this milestone allows any and all AAPI folks to feel seen, heard, and valued,” he said in a statement. “And to start my run in May, a month dedicated to celebrating so many parts of my identity — AAPI Heritage, Jewish Heritage, and Mental Health Awareness — is the cherry on top!”
Penned by the Tony-winning composing team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, “Dear Evan Hansen” tells the story of a high school loner named Evan who “struggles to connect with his classmates, despite encouragement from his mother. When a fellow student finds Evan’s private letter, it sets off a misunderstanding that changes everything.” The show opened on Broadway in December 2016 and became a massive success. It also won six Tony Awards in 2017 and one Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album in 2018.
After taking a long break due to COVID-19 restrictions, the musical reopened its Broadway production in December 2020.
“Every person who plays Evan is different and therefore brings something different to the character,” Piser shared in a Reddit AMA in 2020. “And, the show is bound to change and feel different when you do it with different cast members because they are all bringing their own self to their characters!! Broadway audiences tend to be a bit rowdier than the Canadian audiences I performed to, but I love them all the same!”
After Piser, Stephen Anthony will take over the role in a four-week run for the North American production before Sam Primack returns this September for Broadway.