#LiveatFive with Phoenix Best of DEAR EVAN HANSEN

–Hi everybody! Welcome to’s Live at 5:00. It is Thursday April 19th it’s national high five day, and I am Ryan Lee
Gilbert. –I’m Paul Wontorek.
–And we are joined here in the studio of course by Mr. Matt
Rodin –Hi everybody! Happy national high fives day! –Look at Matt’s My Fair Lady tie. I know normally I’m wearing a hoodie –Not that there’s anything wrong with that. –And we have an incredible guest with us
here today. –Phoenix Best./
— Yes from Dear Evan Hansen. –New star of Dear Even Hansen. –Absolutely very excited to chat with her and we will get to Phoenix in
just a moment, but first Matt why don’t you tell us about today’s top five? –All
right so the big news this morning which I’m like really really psyched yeah
Hadestown is coming to Broadway, Paul. –In a bit –In a moment. –It’s gonna be a bit
–This show is taking quite a journey –is quite a journey –Because let’s be clear Hadestown premiered to almost two years ago at New
York Theatre Workshop off Broadway where RENT started you may have heard of RENT
I always throwback to that. And then it didn’t immediately come to Broadway,
instead they took some time off and they went to Canada at the end of
last year and now they take a little time off and then they’re going to
London’s National Theatre and then at the end of this year and then they’re
saying next year we’re gonna get it. –2019
–So it’s gonna be in perfect shape –Yeah it better be. Better be tight! –It’s kind of like it reminds me of
like when Next to Normal started off and then they’re like we’re now we’re gonna
go down to we’re gonna go down to Virginia –You don’t you don’t call
–Arlington –Yeah you call it Arlington
–You stop. It wasn’t that. Anyway you know I
like what shows take the journey It’s good and this is of
course director Rachael Shopkin who you all love Great Comet and
singer-songwriter Denise Mitchell wrote the folky jazzy score. And it’s
about Orpheus and Hades and Eurydice and the myth
— Yeah it’s so cool –ology.
–There’s an album out cool yeah so to be at The National starting
November 2nd through next January and then I assumed that production will come
to Broadway. –Another really really exciting piece of news is that a show that I know is
close to all of our hearts, especially you Paul,
I just you love the show Bandstand is coming to movie theaters!
— Yeah we all love this show –This was like a surprise Christmas gift because I didn’t even
know they don’t know they filmed it. Matt, you knew I didn’t know.
–This is so what Fathom events are the same people they’ve done like Newsies and
–Love Never Dies — Love Never Dies and Falsettos
— They filmed Love Never Dies? –Absolutley. Bandstand is is arriving in cinemas this summer. June 25th you’ll be
able to see it in cinemas. They filmed a live performance cameras everywhere. They got all the footage. Obviously the show won a Tony Award for Andy Blankenbuehler’s incredible choreography it closed last September very sadly. I miss
it. We have a lot of swag my fiance and I
from Bandstand. We loved it that much. –I can’t wait to see it Cause you know what these
Fathom events. They do it beautifully. –We also got news today that Lynn Nottage’s new play down at the Public got
extended. I’m not I’m not gonna say the title.
— Mlima’s Tale –Yes, honey –Yes I mean so this is the play about the elephant.
–It is –Did you see it? –I have not –You seem very well educated about it. –Well I’ve had to talk about it but yeah –It’s about a magnificent elephant named
Mlima trapped in the ivory market.
–That’s scary. –Lynn Nottage is a fantastic… –Two time two-time Pulitzer Prize winner –Two times?
–Two time: Ruined and Sweat –And so it’s a two weeks extension. So, it’s supposed to end May 20th now it’ll go
through June 3rd down at the Public Theater.
— I’ll have a chance to go see it –Is there a real elephant in it?
–I don’t know. I haven’t seen it. –I think it’s like a guy in like a thing. We
got some new photos from Summer, which opens next week and a new video from
SpongeBob Ryan –Yeah so Summer
–Hot stuff –Yeah yeah the summer the Donna Summer musical we have production photos taken by John Marcus so you get to see LaChanze and Arianna DuBose and Storm Lever as what
is it disco Donna duckling Donna and diva Donna to see how they. They look incredible.
I can’t wait to see the show. And Sponge Bob put out SpongeBob SquarePants put
out a music video, Ethan Slater singing the Panic! at the
Disco song, one I know that you’re also a big fan o, Just a Simple Sponge
— And you also brought a very passionate Facebook post
— I did about that. I love SpongeBob SquarePants
— I think you might have — I think I said I said ass.
I said move your ass to that theater the Palace Theatre.Yeah go see Spongebob it’s incredible. –Last but not
least, My Fair Lady opens tonight it’s why I’m wearing this tie. –Yeah we already
teased it with the tie. A tie tease. Yeah, Lauren Ambrose is starring in a musical.
–Norbert Leo Butz is back on Broadway!
— Norbert Leo Butz, Bart Sher –Have you seen it?
–I have not. –That song what’s it called Get Me to the Church on Time
they turned it into like this like epic can-can number with there’s even drag
queens spoiler! Anyway it’s a big Bart Sher musical at
Vivian Beaumont. You know how they do them there. They’re like right big gorgeous –Opulent
–Gorgeous productions and Harry Patton Harry Hadden Paton making his Broadway debut as Henry Higgins and Chris Gattelli choreographed,
–And I can’t wait –Opening’s tonight. Gonna be great.
–Mr. Matt Rodin’s covering it all, right? There’s lots of fun things.
–I’ll be there. And the photos right? We’re doing like a
pretty pretty photo thing too. –Yeah as we do lots of cool things here.
I just want to say since it’s national high
five day. Did you know that the high five was invented by a gay man? A baseball
player –Oh yeah tell the story. This was
I don’t know if I believe it
–He was a Los Angeles Dodger 1977 his
teammate was coming back after hitting his 30th homerun crosses the home plate
Glenn Burke put up his hand, his teammate slapped it high-five. –No one had ever done it before.
–That’s what I said!
–People have hit hands –Cavemen didn’t?
–This was the high five captured, –No one thought to do it? Who did the first fist bump? –I don’t know.
–Find out for tomorrow –Barack Obama and Michelle Obama as far
as concerned. –On that note, I’m out
— Thank you so much –Thank you. –I’m seeing Harry Potter tonight I’m very excited. Matt, tell us a little bit about
today’s guest. –All right so Phoenix Best graduated from DeSales University before
making her Broadway de but in The Color Purple. Shortly after that she launched
the recent national tour of Les Miserables as Eponine and now she’s back on
the Broadway starring eight times a week is Alana Beck in Dear Evan Hansen, and that’s what she’s here to talk about today You know her, you love her. If you have
questions for Phoenix, and I know that you do, leave them in the comments
section below and we’ll get to as many as we possibly can and now here is Ryan
and Phoenix. Let me finish it! [laughs] –What great pronunciations of some words
over there by Matt Rodin inventing his new language over there. I’m very excited
to speak with you. I was just we were saying before you came on I’ve met you
before when you were starring as Eponine in the Les Miserables tour. First of all,
you, I’m sure you hear this all the time but you have the best name.
— Thank You –Phoenix Best is such a great name is the best name. What do you do
where did why Phoenix? Do you know? –I have no idea. My name was supposed to be Ashley up until the moment I was born and then I was born and my name was changed and they were like yeah. –It’s perfect.
— I actually hated my name for the longest time cuz it was so different than everybody else. And you know some
people couldn’t spell it right, and that would make me feel bad. People still
can’t spell it right, but it’s whatever. But yeah I didn’t like my name for a
while and now I embrace it. A lot of people actually ask me if it’s a stage
name. They’re like what’s your real name and I’m like nope. I’ve been born with it.
–I have a sister named Raven and a brother named River, so my and then I’m Ryan. Yeah so like we’re
we’re into the cool names. Yeah so let’s get Dear Evan Hansen you are part of one of
Broadway’s biggest hit show. How how does it feel to be a part of this big
how are things happening going at the Music Box?
–Yeah it’s it’s amazing to be back in the show, officially officially. I was there as a
vacation cover back in June and Kristolyn went on vacation, and by
very quick happenstance I went on for one performance on the Friday of the
last week I was there, right before I was getting ready to leave. And it was
amazing my mom happened to be at the show that day, too. So it just all kind of
worked out in my favor. And now to be back and to be in the show this amazing
phenomenal show that has touched so many lives. Incredible. –It’s one of the
people still talk about Dear Evan Hansen all the time you know it’s like some
shows have their moment and then things quiet down,
nobody is quieting down about Dear Evan Hansen. It is still just on the tip of
everyone’s tongue. –It is.
–What do you. Ilana Beck, overachiever. You kind of have to
represent sort of like everyone in school, you know? You’re here like that
what do you like most about playing Ilana and you know what what you admire
most about her? –I admire most her optimism about things because of
everything that’s going on within the show, and you know how heavy the show can get, Alana is that person to like bring the positivity and bring the optimism.
And all of the things that are happening and continue to drive the situation for
it. I mean you know she’s not the driving character, but she’s part of that
that uh locomotion to keep going and she said oh the Conner Project. I’m on it.
I’m in it. I want to do that. I want to be a part of that. She wants to connect to
people so much, and I feel like with social media kind of in this day and age,
we’re not as connected to people as we have been before, and so having a
character like Ilana who is so connected it’s really nice to be able to play that
and to play up the positivity and the optimism and the things that come from
that –How was high school for you? So I’m I’m older. I’m in my 30s, and so social
media wasn’t a thing when I was in high school. Were you what what was social
media like for you when you were in high school?
–Was it the only thing we had was Facebook, and I was not allowed to have a Facebook until I was like maybe a junior in high school so social media really did not play that
much in my –I couldn’t imagine being in high school right now –Right now? No.
–With the way that it is –Middle school? –I still don’t understand social media. Sometimes people will be like oh you were tagged in this? I’m like what
does that mean? Where do I find that? But yeah
I couldn’t like imagining growing up in all of this social media. I find it
hard now, so when I was 16 and 15 –Chores and and activities. I you have to grow up so fast
–Yeah. –To be a part of that drives me yeah I don’t know how they do it.
Um but growing up, growing up you you sang and played piano like your whole
life right? So was performing always going to be the path for Phoenix? –Oh yeah. Phoenix was going to be a pop star let me tell you. Pop star, and she was gonna be on Broadway and she was gonna be in TV and movies. We got one down two more to go. hopefully I can release an album or an EP someday soon, but yeah performing was always a part of me
–And your family was very much behind it? –Yeah, my mother was a dancer. My
grandmother is a singer as well. All of her brothers and sisters are singers.
My sister is an artist. She draws, so we’re all kind of like within the arts
community. But yeah I was the only one who was like singing in like my
immediate family and I’ve been playing piano since I was four and a half, so. I’m not that good, but I’ve been playing for a while. So music has definitely played a big part in my
life and you studied musical theater. So were
you what what’s a what’s a favorite memory from your musical theater
training and you know like or what what what lesson did you learn? Happy that you
did this? –Um the thing that I learned the most is how challenging being in this
industry is, and how much you really have to work, you know, just because you love
something doesn’t mean it’s always gonna come to you as easy as you’d like it to be. And so I think that’s what I learned in undergrad while I was in
undergrad I did the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival as an intern, and,
which I’m currently on the board of now which is amazing, but I was an intern
there, an acting intern and we got to work with professionals and get Equity
points and like work towards that and so that’s how I learned what it would kind
of be like to be here. So so that’s what I took the most from it.
–And as I think I was saying somewhere, you you left
what you moved to New York and a month after moving to New York City, you booked
your Broadway debut. Incredible, The Color Purple.
–Yes –What what was that like what was that I mean not only, you know, so quickly after
like settling down here, but then part of just one of the most phenomenal
productions of a musical I’ve ever seen… –Yeah it was a very funny story. While I
was still an intern at the Shakespeare Festival, I came up here right before it was
over, and I had auditioned actually for Wicked, for at this big open call
that happened in the summer of 2015. And, long story short I got down to the final
two, and they were like you know it’s not for you now, but you should move to New
York, and I was like I have no money! I moved to New York with $100 like stayed on my friend’s air mattress in their spare room, and the week I moved here, I got
called in for The Color Purple and I went for a few more callbacks and then
exactly a month to the day of when I moved to New York I booked it.
And that show was just amazing
— Like it’s incredible incredible.
–It’s amazing that like the two Broadway shows I’ve done, have been like these big life touching
–Tony award winning productions –Tony Award, Grammy Award It’s incredible and I cannot believe.
— That’s right well I mean you have big dreams we’re making them
happen. And then as we were saying earlier, you played
Eponine, which is just a role. I mean just such a role. What was what was that
experience like not only playing that role, where you are just. I mean all your
songs are belty, and you’re there the whole time. It’s just taxing. I mean, for someone so young I mean like that what was that like?
–It was a dream come true honestly, and to get to travel the
country while doing it –You got to play your home town theater, right? –I did. That was actually my closing
theater. I closed out my run in Les Mis at the Academy of Music, which is
actually the first place I saw Les Mis, which is was so insane. Like five years
almost to the day. –Meant to be
–It was a full circle moment. So meant to be –And just
getting to play like such an iconic character you know? A lot of people like
my first Eponine was this person, my first Eponine was this person. And like
I got to be someone’s first Eponine. And that just meant so much to me to get to
share the same thing someone has shared to me
five years ago, and inspire a bunch of kids. –And did you like touring life?
Was that? Because you know it’s a grind. You’re spending all of your
time with the same people and you know it just was it for you or do you like
kind of being? –I like to be more settled in a place, and when I was younger we
moved around a little bit, and so finally like having a place to stay in one spot
it felt good so I think like the picking up and moving every week and like the
schedule was constantly changing. I think that was the hardest part for me, but I
loved doing the show in different cities if that makes sense
–Yeah oh yeah you see like the country –I didn’t really travel growing up like I
took my first plane ride like three or four years ago while I was in Color Purple 3 years ago I guess And so now like flying every week, I was
like Oh my god! I’m on a plane! And everyone else would be like it’s travel day Phoenix, calm down. I’d be like the plane’s taking off! –Absolutely absolutely and you have some
new people coming to join you in Dear Evan Hansen Alex Boniello
next month and then you’ll be getting a new Jared in June. Are you excited to
welcome some new cast members? –I am yeah. It’ll be nice to have some new faces in the cast and it’ll be nice to share this story with a different you know different group of
people, but I am really excited and I won’t be the most new person. There’ll be someone else who’s more new than me. Yeah I’m really excited.
–And a lot of casts love to say like how they all you know feel like
they’re a family or whatever, but you genuinely that Dear Evan Hansen cast
does come across is that they’re oh you’re all so close and committed to one
another. Does it feel that way? –It does it definitely does. I think for me
specifically because I was there before, coming back, everyone was like you’re back! Yay! We’re so excited to have you here, and like it already felt kind of a part
of the family, and now it’s just like flourishing even more. And it is such an
open and loving place to be like I feel like everyone is so happy to have other
people there, and so welcoming, definitely so. It’ll be nice for the new people
coming in –Yeah fantastic. Matt, what do the viewers like to know from Phoenix? –A lot. So I want to start, George asked a really good question, but this is a fun fact is that
you not only were you a swing in The Color Purple. You were also an ASM. –I was
–So George said what did it take to be an assistant stage manager and a swing for
a Broadway musical simultaneousl? –For a 21 year old just moving to New York, it
was a lot
— –Did you know that’s what was gonna be
going in?
–I did. I did. I didn’t know how much it would be to be both. I mean, I was on a
lot. Don’t get me wrong I was on a lot, but I definitely ran the deck a few
times, too. And I did that not almost as much but definitely a third of the
amount that I was on. And it was a definite learning experience to be
a swing and then to also be an assistant stage manager. It definitely gives me an
appreciation more as an actor for those people who are your stage managers, your crew, the people. Like it made me feel like, I want to know everyone’s name
who works in the building. I want to treat everyone with the same respect, not
that I wasn’t treated with respect, but it definitely gave me an insight to be
like wow, like, they work so hard like just as much as we do, and so I feel like
that needs to be said about people who work behind the scenes and who you know
their names aren’t on the side of the building. Like we want to thank those people just as much –Hard work
–Yeah exactly –And make you guys look fantastic that’s there yeah,
–And I felt like a boss. –I was going to say
–I had a headset. I had a clipboard. I’d be like places everybody.
–[laughs] –You love it. Haley says I’m currently a sophomore musical theater student at
DeSales. Do you have a favorite show or memory at the school?
— Yeah my favorite show was when I did Chicago. My sophomore year of college. –Our next-door neighbor’s
Right next door –Yeah it was my sophomore year. I wanted
to be Velma Kelly so so so bad, but I was like probably not gonna get it probably
not gonna get it. I got called back for it I was like what? Then the cast list went
up and I got it. I was like you’ve got to be kidding me.
And it was the hardest thing. I think I had to do at DeSales, like I’ve never
danced so much, I never sweat so much. I never cried so much. Like was so happy
but yeah that was my favorite memory. It’s a great show. –This is an
interesting question from Ariela she says why do you think Ilana cares so
much about Connor? In the book Through the Window, I think Kristolyn said that
she thought Alana had a crush on Connor. What’s your opinion? –I think Alana sees a lot of herself in Connor because you know there’s a
there’s one point in the show where she reveals truly how she feels. And I feel
like through almost of the show, she’s so peppy and so energetic and so optimistic,
you don’t get to see those darker sides of Ilana.
And with what happened to Connor, I feel like she sees a part of herself. And she
wants to fight just as hard for him as she would wish someone would fight for
her, and that’s where I feel that connection. I could be wrong. But that’s how I see it. I definitely see that she’s
so optimistic and so funny and so energetic, that you don’t really get to
see these like wow my heart is breaking moments, except for that like one really
good moment in Good for You. And during that song and the scene after it, and so,
I think she’s like he was worth fighting for, and I’m worth fighting for. So if no
one wants to fight for him I’m gonna be the person to do it because I don’t know
who’s gonna fight for me. –Right I love that.
— Yeah –Justine wants to know how do you keep a work/life balance especially since the
show is so emotionally taxing? –Yeah you must be pooped at the end of –Yeah I’m definitely tired at the
end, but like I said I get to be like the comedic side. I get to have a lot more
energy throughout it, but I do feel like at the end of the show, I’m like wow that
was a lot. But because the last scene is so uplifting and what Evan says
in the last scene you know that motivates a lot of kids who come to see
this show. I feel like it motivates me and I’m like yeah yeah okay.
I did that show. I’m good. I’m gonna go sign some autographs and then I’m gonna go home.
You know, so I feel like that –Is that decompression stage really important you? –It is.
–And I also get like a nice little break right before that last
scene, so I get like a break to decompress do the last scene and feel
like like I feel like the whole show you’re like and that last scene you
finally get to be like –Yeah absolutely –George wants to know does the show
have a ritual for when someone makes their debut in the show? –No I don’t
think we do. –High fives
–High fives –This one is a common one Brendan wants to know any
funny stories from Dear Evan Hansen on stage or backstage –Funny stories
–Mishaps. –They love mishaps
–Have you fallen? –I almost fell. –There we go see look at
–I almost felt so in Waving Through a Window his backpack falls on the floor and it’s
you know they’re the whole whole scene and they usually let me know they’re
like oh the straps are a little like upstage, a little downstage just be aware
of it cuz when I like have my backpack and I’m doing the turns like I’m close
to the backpack, and one day I went out there and I was like ah like slipped and
almost fully slid down and fell. Jennifer Laura Thompson was like…My heart was
beating so fast because I like got into place like just in time for the lights
to change, and I was like oh my gosh I almost just fell so hard in front
of everyone. And it was like my third week in the show, and I was like Oh no. –I promise I know how to walk fast with my backpack on. –Talk to me about, David wants to know who inspired you to be a performer? –Who inspired me… um I feel like I’m gonna just say my mom. Because when I was young, before I even knew what performing was, I was
performing. And my mom, she’s a single mom. And she would come home from work and I’d be like mom I created something and I really want to show you! And she
would come out… I loved Pooh like Pooh Bear. She would come out with my
17 Pooh Bears like all different sizes and shapes,
set them all up for me, and then I would come in and do whatever performance I
had to give to her. It would be a song. It would be a play. It would be whatever I
have just like made up. So I feel like she is honestly like the driving force
behind it. I know a lot of you know parents are
like I don’t know about theater. I don’t know about this, and you know we didn’t
have a lot of money. And my mom was like go for what you want. And even booking my first Broadway show, people were like your daughters on Broadway. And she
didn’t wasn’t really like that excited or didn’t seem
–She just knew knew
— I always knew this was gonna happen. And so I feel like that, that she is my thing. –That’s beautiful. Good mom! –Yeah great mom
let me tell you. –And finally from Mia, what’s your favorite Broadway
show? You got a favorite musical? Got a favorite play? You got any any classics
that you love? Or new… –I don’t know I have a favorite, but one that I really
really enjoyed to see was If/Then That blew my mind when I saw that show. I
was like wait what is going on? Who was up there? And then when it
clicked, I was like oh my gosh that show was so great. Yeah it was only the
second Broadway show I saw. –What was the first?
–The first, funny story, my life is one big full circle, I swear. My first Broadway show was Once
–Oh — I was
–You’re talking to the right team –I know we’re like ooh –I think it was right
after my sophomore year of college, but it was, it was at the Bernard B. Jacobs theatre which is the exact same place I made my Broadway debut. So I thought that was
really insane –The universe is on your side, Phoenix –Right now. Please stay on my side! –It will and you’re you’re a fantastic entertainer. We’re so excited to see all
of the incredible things you’re gonna do. Thank you so much with us. Go see Dear
Evan Hansen, see Phoenix Best as Ilana Beck at the Music Box Theatre
–She’s the best! –She is the best. Thank you again so much. Come back anytime
–Oh of course –And Matt take us out.
–You guys know the deal. We do this live every single weekday at 5 p.m. here on’s Facebook page we also put it on YouTube on our site on TV all the places. And we release this as a
podcast, so if you like listening to podcasts you can listen to the live at 5
podcast if you like miss an episode. That’s all I got for you today’s. It’s
Thursday so I was gonna say happy Thursday. Come back tomorrow tomorrow’s Friday. It’s the end of the week it’ll be a party here at Live at 5:00. We will see
you then! Bye everybody!


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