One on One with Markus — Alessandro Costantini
Alessandro Costantini only had to see the production of Dear Evan Hansen once to know he wanted to be a part of it.
Originally from Sudbury, Costantini saw the show on Broadway in 2017.
"It is perfectly in line with the kind of artistic mandate I created for myself," he said. "A story about a young person learning how to live."
He auditioned for the New York production but didn't land the part. He heard it was coming to Canada and decided to take another shot at landing a role. A few days after the audition, his agent called with the news that the part was his.
"I just started crying," he said. "It looked like someone had died because I had fell to the floor."
Costantini, who is only 26-years-old, is playing the role of Jared Kleinman in the show which is on stage at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto until September.
"I love the character I'm playing," he said.
"I love the show. It's been nothing but a gift. I've always hoped and dreamed that something like this would happen and now that it has, it has surpassed all my expectations."
Music and acting has been a part of Costantini's life for a long time. He says he has memories as a child playing The Backstreet Boys on his portable CD player while singing and dancing along.
He realized he may be onto something when his grandmother kept requesting he turn down the music so she could hear him sing.
"That kind of encouraged me to sing a little bit louder," he said.
At age 11, he took part in his first play with Theatre Cambrian.
"Looking back, I think the thing that hooked me with the theatre was finding a community of people that were like-minded," he said.
"I had wonderful friends growing up but everybody was a hockey player and I was not."
A few years later in Grade 9, Costantini got his first paid gig when he starred in James and the Giant Peach at the Sudbury Theatre Centre.
"It was wonderful," he said. "It was a glorious story and I got to miss school which was really cool."
Going into business
Costantini says he discovered the production Hair and knew he wanted to bring it to the stage in Sudbury. However, he knew he wouldn't be able to bring it to his Catholic high school. Hair is a rock-musical which features the stories of hippies during the sexual revolution and anti-war movement of the 1960s.
As a result, Costantini came up with an idea to put on the production himself. He started his own theatre company and booked the rights to do the show.
"I remember the closing night of Hair, I don't think anything has touched that feeling for me," he said.
"It just seemed so impossible. And how it all came together in the most perfect way."
That was YES Theatre's first production. The not-for-profit theatre group is still up and running and works to support emerging performance artists in northern Ontario.
Costantini says he wants to continue landing major roles, but always wants to have that connection to YES Theatre.
"The thing that really is important to me is creating community and bringing people together," he said.
"I think theatre is a way to educate, inspire, it's political and it's ours."
With files from Markus Schwabe/CBC