by Lorie Lewis Ham
Fresno Lexus Broadway in Fresno opens its latest season on January 10, 2023 with the Fresno premiere of Dear Evan Hansen. It will have a limited one-week engagement at the Saroyan Theatre in Fresno. KRL had the chance to chat with one of the actors in the show recently, Lili Thomas, who plays Cynthia Murphy.
For those not familiar with the musical, the Broadway in Fresno press release says, “A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Dear Evan Hansen is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it.” The musical was also turned into a best-selling novel, and more recently a movie. You can learn more on the show’s website. I personally love this story and can’t wait to see it on stage! For anyone with social anxiety, it is very relatable and moving.
Q & A with Lili Thomas:
KRL: Where are you from?
Lili: Westchester, NY.
KRL: When did you first become interested in acting?
Lili: In 2nd grade.
KRL: What was the first role that you ever played?
Lili: Snow White in the school play. My mother picked me up from school and I cried as I got into the car because I was so upset that I didn’t get the evil queen!
KRL: What are some of the roles you have played professionally?
Lili: Bertha Hunt in Hello Girls, Sheila in A Chorus Line, Mimi in Rent, Fastrada in Pippin, Marcy Park in Spelling Bee.
KRL: Why did you want to play this role?
Lili: It’s a real acting heavy role rather than the more musical or dance focused parts I have had in the past. I was very excited to be hired to play a mother for the first time (as a mother of two!)
Lili: Cynthia is the grieving mother of her 17-year-old son who commits suicide. She is the anchor of sorrow in the play and navigates the troubled waters of grief within her family while making mistakes along the way but always trying to do her best.
KRL: Can you share a little bit about the character for those not familiar with the show?
KRL: Were you a fan of the show before auditioning?
Lili: Yes, I saw it twice on Broadway.
KRL: What do you like best about playing this role?
Lili: I love having the opportunity to be able to portray some real-life difficulties of parenting onstage.
KRL: What has been the biggest challenge in playing this role?
Lili: The amount of emotional vulnerability and weighted grief that this role demands is hard to perform 8x/week for sure!
KRL: What have you done to prepare for this role?
Lili: I try to maintain a very heightened sense of self-awareness and emotional awareness in order to be fully available for the demands of this role.
KRL: What do you like best about this show?
Lili: I love the message of this show. And the fact that there is a part that anyone and everyone who comes to see the show will be able to relate to! Whether it’s the parent, the daughter, the outcast, etc.
KRL: What is a typical day like for you while in this touring show?
Lili: I usually try to sleep well, wake up and do the crossword, explore something unique about the city we are in (usually trying to find some amazing cuisine!), take some time for something that personally brings me joy (writing music, painting, reading), FaceTime my kids then do the show!
KRL: Anything else you would like to share?
Lili: I always want to know what dish or restaurant a town is known for, so please share any recommendations you have with me! You can follow and DM me @thelilithomas.
Tickets are available at BroadwayinFresno.com, in person at the Fresno Entertainment and Convention Center Box Office, or by calling 800.745.3000. You can learn more about Lili on her website www.lili-thomas.com.
Check out more local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section. And don’t miss out on Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast where we feature mystery stories read by local actors!