When Salt Lake City’s Eccles Theater revealed which shows would be staged in the coming year, the voices of Hillcrest High students belting “You Will Be Found” from the Tony Award-winning “Dear Evan Hansen” were a pitch-perfect part of the publicity blitz.
Videographers were at Hillcrest on Monday to film students in the vaunted drama program perform the song from the popular show, which will attract crowds March 4-14. Clips of the Husky performance, done in the school’s auditorium, will be used by the theater to promote the show and six others that are coming for the 2019-2020 season.
Along with “Dear Evan Hansen,” Broadway at the Eccles will mount such box-office draws as “Frozen,” “Miss Saigon,” “A Christmas Story,” “Anastasia,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” The lineup was rolled out on Friday, March 22 the same day that theatergoers could renew their season tickets. The Hillcrest students who performed the “Dear Evan Hansen” song on Monday said they hoped to snap up expected-to-be-scarce tickets to the show that resonates with audiences of all ages but has proven particular popular with teenagers.
Hillcrest drama teacher Josh Long said his students were given less than a week to learn the song before the filming. It was particularly hectic, Long said, because rehearsals had to be scheduled around planned choir performances and the school’s March 14-16 production of “Akhnaton,” which was the first time the Agatha Christie play had been performed in Utah.
Long said his students were asked to do the performance after Eccles Theater officials saw and were impressed with Hillcrest’s performance at last year’s Utah High School Musical Theater Awards at which the school won Best Musical for “Les Miserables.” The show’s star, Bennett Chew, also won the Best Actor for his portrayal of Jean Valjean.
As part of the Monday rehearsal, Long said, the students were able to Skype with a New York-based director who gave them tips on how to perform the song for the cameras.
Standing between seats in the auditorium where she’s made countless memories during musicals and plays, senior Megan Wheat said it was thrilling to receive tips from entertainment-industry insiders who work with some of the country’s top stage talents. Among the notes: Students were encouraged to find balance between the acting and singing and to err on the side of performing with emotion and intent rather than a rote recitation of words to the song.
Senior Ian Williams, who was cast as Link Larkin in Hillcrest’s fall production of “Hairspray,” said the experience helped cap his last few months at the school before graduation.
“That was one of the coolest things I have been able to do,” Williams said after the filming wrapped Monday morning. “This is kind of something you hope for, but you don’t ever know if you’ll ever be able to do it.”