Ok. In between bites of your sandwich tell me who you are and what you do. Actually what kind of sandwich are you eating?
Chicken cutlet. It’s very classic. Smoked gouda, but you know that, and lettuce, tomato and honey mustard.
I just want people to know so they know what to bring to the stage door.
Oh my god no bc if I only got chicken cutlet sandwiches! What’s a good healthy snack?
If one more person brings a box of that I’ll freak out. They bring the full size and they bring a lot. Actually if I buy a cookie I prefer Levain.
Remember how I said no matter what I ask we’ll just veer off into random things? I asked ‘who are you’ and we’re talking about cookies.
So sorry to keep going down the snack road but Dill Pickle Popcorn from Trader Joe’s. It was out last summer and it was unbelievable.
Before we actually really really get started, was Beyonce in this room?
I don’t know and you know that [Colton was out of town during the Queen’s visit]
She went from here to Rihanna’s Diamond Ball. What a great New York Evening.
You couldn’t write that! Where did she change?!
Do you think she took over Ben’s dressing room?
She should’ve. He’d let her.
Also he says that he summoned Beyonce but let us not forget that I taught him Beyonce choreo while wearing a Beyonce t shirt on your patio. So maybe I summoned Beyonce.
When? Is that true? Oh you did! You might’ve actually summoned her!
Ok so who are you and what do you do?
My name is Colton Ryan and I am an understudy at Dear Evan Hansen.
It means that you go on in the show when other people cant go on. All parts. I can do any one of them. Any one.
So you could go on for Rachel?
Anytime. Actually whenever we run Good For You in rehearsal I always take over the Heidi part. In octave. [ he then demonstrated for me. he wasn’t lying]
I’m gonna set a timer and you have thirty seconds to explain the show.
Ok white kid comes out he’s like I got fuckin’ problems man. I got lots of problems. Anxiety. Depression. He starts writing letters to himself to pump himself up. His mom’s like “Do that”. He’s like “I will” and he tries at school but it doesn’t go well. Kid’s like yo then kills himself by the way and Evan starts lying about them being friends. Oh wait that’s a big thing that he lies about them being friends.
Then at the end he tells the truth, cries a lot, snots a lot, splash zone. Bam! We did it. We’re at the orchard. Oh yeah the orchard is a reference from before.
So should people feel bad for Evan even though he lied?
You don’t have to. I think it’s transparent where he’s coming from but you don’t have to. But even Zoe is Team Evan. Everyone loves Evan!
So we’re gonna rewind to a question that we skipped which is how do you know me?
Well I knew of you infamously through school.
Oh really? What kind of things did they say? Probably the time I was in a coma.
I met you before one time at the drag party. And you did an entire production number to Partition and I was actually very impressed. It left a deep imprint on my memory. You impressed me with the performance then you ended it by saying ‘Hey wanna know something?’ So I’m like ‘Yeah. Roll up to the partition. Tell me what’s up.’ But I didn't know how to do drag so I just work a girl's overalls. Hahaha!
So we met at the drag party then we saw Sideshow together the next year but why were you here?
The Les Miz audition! I had a great night at Side Show then I went in for Tara Rubin the next day thinking of that show and that led to me getting called in for this.
Tell me about the characters you cover. I’ll give you sixty seconds this time. Go!
Evan. Good kid, Going through some stuff. Lies a binch but it comes from a good place. HE’s a nice kid, can’t communicate, its hard for him. Should I keep going to the next one? Oh! Broken arm, really imperative. Ya gotta have a cast. Blue polo aesthetic all the time.
Uhh. Jared. Good hearted best friend. Smarmy, witty, cool. No what? Not cool. He’s not cool at all. He’s just kind of the truth telling douchebag to Evan always being like I’m doing goof thing and he's like no you’re not you’re being an ass. He’s also very Jewish.
Connor. Kid who we don’t really know so much about cause he ends up killing himself but he;s the conscience to Evan.
Would you really call Jared a best friend?
NO! He’s just the best friend he’s got. They’re not good friends at all but he’s the best of what he’s got.
So what are some things you’ve learned in Dear Evan Hansen? It can be about yourself or acting or the business. Just anything you didn't know before you started this process.
I’ve learned a lot when it comes to acting in the sense that there’s so much power in just listening, actively listening and just responding. There’s a lot to live up to playing Evan. There’s an emotional ride that you really gotta show up to. And when doing that if you’re actively thinking about hitting these emotional points you aren’t really there. But if you just keep taking in the information, the show is written so well that it’ll wear on you and you will get emotional. If I just listen to what’s being said in front of me and the context behind my lie and how it’s affecting them and making them happy but knowing the truth, it can take you there.
Do you think that’s helped you in other things outside of the show?
I would say in general it’s made me a lot more emotionally available and a much better listener.
Who are some people who have really helped you in the show or just some really cool connections that you’ve made?
I would say the two guys who’ve done the most onstage for sure and even off, from the moment I walked into the building were Will and Mike. They take good care of me. And there’s a lot of wisdom about this piece because they've been with it so much longer than I have. And because we’re so close in age and such good friends it was easy for me to turn to them and ask what’s clicking and what’s not? We can be honest with each other. And it’s the same with Ben! It’s so ironic that he’s been so helpful for me through this process because he’s never seen me play Evan. But watching him or hearing him speak about it is a total masterclass in itself. So I’m always trying to absorb. And now that I’ve done it a few times I can talk candidly with him about it and the things I notice going trough the show and what parts meant to him or to me and how it differs or is the same.
And the people I’ve met along the way. In college for music theatre I listened to these people all the time and now I’m meeting them and to them I’m a peer. It’s priceless.
You get payed to hug Rachel Bay Jones!
Someone that I saw! I saw the revival of Pippin with her in it when I was a senior in high school. And that show was so informative. I saw it and thought “Oh I wanna do this for sure!”
And in this theatre!
I know! Isn’t that crazy?
I was very shocked at your fourth of July party because Ben had just won a Tony and he was so…
A gentleman. A sweetheart. He’s just part of the crowd. He’s a normal person!
I also love that he understands just how visible he is because of this show. Before this, people knew him but now he’s a big name.
I mean, he’s gonna be one of the biggest people in the world.
And we all danced to Beyonce together while drinking wine! Which SHOCKED me because if I had to sing this role I’d be water only.
He did! He’s done so much for music theatre with this role that now he gets the time to revel in it. This is his victory lap and he deserves it! He's so great.
I feel like the character of Evan gave us a new type of leading man in a way.
Well yeah he’s certainly broadened horizons. The lovable, awkward guy gets to be up front now. These kinds of stories are being told on TV all the time and Broadway is finding its day in the sun with these things.
So with Broadway being so popular with younger crowds we’ve seen a new type of mega fan. Tell me some of your favorite fan interactions.
Dude! The fan base of the show and how generous they are to me… I still can’t really fathom it. There was this day I said ask me anything online and someone asked what’s my favorite snack so I said Sour Patch Kids for sure. The next day I had 8 bags delivered here from fans and one showed up to hand deliver them. And I’ve gotten posters with such nice things they want to say to me. And it happens on the days I need it the most. We have tough days in New York City and I’ve had wonderful times where someone gives me a book with pictures they drew of me. It’s so cool! There’s a girl named Lulu, she's awesome, but she’s drawn all these things and did like a fake tweet from Kanye about me and it made my life. [Colton is obsessed with rapper, Kanye West] They’re so nice and so generous and so cool.
I have no words… Wow.
AT THIS POINT THE CAST GOT THEIR HALF HOUR CALL WHICH MEANS NO MORE GUESTS BACKSTAGE.
Well that’s good ‘cause it’s time for you to go, my friend.
Colton, thank you so much for sitting with me today! You’re the best!
Thank you! Let’s do this again sometime! I had fun!