Sam Primack stars as Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen at the Wharton Center in East Lansing, May 17-22.
Sam Primack stars as Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen at the Wharton Center in East Lansing, May 17-22. (Bond Theatrical)

Sam Primack will finally be coming to Michigan with Dear Evan Hansen at the Wharton Center in East Lansing, May 17-22.

Not too many high schoolers’ moms have kvelling rights to their sons starring on Broadway in the title role of Evan Hansen from Dear Evan Hansen. In fact, the elite group is exclusive to a population of two, both discovered at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, or Jimmy Awards. And both Jewish.

First, there was Andrew Barth Feldman. Next, there is Sam Primack, who, at 18, started on Broadway in June 2019 as the understudy for all three male teen characters — Evan Hansen, Connor Murphy and Jared Kleinman. He then starred on the Dear Evan Hansen national tour as the Evan Hansen alternate, performing the role during Saturday matinees and Sunday evenings. 

One week before he was set to perform at the Fisher Theatre, in front of a local fan base in March 2020, all tours were canceled, and Broadway shut down. 

“The week of March 8, Sam had taken a scheduled time off from the tour to go on our family vacation to Costa Rica. While we were there, that’s when COVID became a reality,” said Allyson Ochs Primack, who grew up in Farmington Hills and now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., along with her parents, Carole and Larry Ochs. “By the last day of our trip, we found out that the tour was suspended for several weeks. We were all devastated.”

Sam came directly home to Arizona from Costa Rica to wait for news. By August 2020, when it was clear that the Dear Evan Hansen tour would not be resuming any time soon due to COVID, he enrolled at Arizona State University and completed his first year of college in May 2021. Primack started back on tour in December of 2021.

This was not the first time that Dear Evan Hansen interrupted Primack’s schooling.

In March 2019, with one semester left until high school graduation, Primack moved to New York and started his amazing theatrical journey. He was able to come back to Scottsdale for two days in May 2019 and graduate with his classmates at Chaparral High School. And on June 19, 2019, he opened on Broadway.

“Getting noticed and discovered at the Jimmy Awards is a huge stepping-stone to so many students who become Broadway stars. I was lucky, and I am grateful that I got that experience. It truly changed my life in ways that I never expected,” Primack says.

Sam Primack as Evan Hansen
Sam Primack as Evan Hansen Bond Theatrical

Back in Michigan

Primack will finally be coming to Michigan with Dear Evan Hansen at the Wharton Center in East Lansing, May 17-22. 

Primack’s mom will fly in from Arizona to see him perform in the May 21 matinee and May 22 evening shows. She plans to attend with many Detroit-area friends, including her Michigan State University sorority sisters from Sigma Delta Tau. 

“It’s going to be amazing discovering Detroit again with newer, older eyes,” says Primack, who last came through Michigan when he was 12, playing the role of Pugsley on the national tour of The Addams Family.

At that time, his mom accompanied him on tour for six months and even wrote a blog about it — www.momontour.com.

“Having him perform in Michigan is more exciting for me than if he were performing in Arizona because the people who I grew up with will see my child living his dream and that’s what’s so special,” says Ochs Primack, defense attorney at the Maricopa County Legal Defender’s Office. 

“I’ve grown up a lot since then,” says Sam, who’ll celebrate his 21st birthday while in East Lansing. “I’m excited to come back to Michigan this time and see where my mom grew up and how her upbringing impacted me. It’s such a small world, the Michigan family and Jewish community.”

While on tour, Primack has a strict regimen of eating healthy, working out at the gym and staying mentally focused through meditation. His hour-long preshow routine incudes stretching and vocal warm-ups.

“The part of Evan is known for being extremely vocally and physically demanding and requires a great amount of energy and effort. There really hasn’t been a part like this one before that’s created for young men,” Primack says. “I love doing it. It’s such a challenge every time.”

For Primack, the challenge will continue long after he finishes the tour next month on June 6. Following a well-deserved vacation, he’ll move back to New York City and apartment hunt for his pinnacle career moment: starring as Evan Hansen full-time on Broadway, starting Sept. 6.

“It’s crazy,” Primack says. “I still have to pinch myself because it sometimes doesn’t feel real. But, at the end of the day, I am so grateful that I have this life.”  

Details

Dear Evan Hansen will be performed at the Cobb Great Hall in the Wharton Center in East Lansing, Mich., Tuesday, May 17 – Sunday, May 22. Shows are Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. For tickets, go to whartoncenter.com or call (517) 432-2000 or 1-800-WHARTON.

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