Amandla Stenberg Joins Universal’s Dear Evan Hansen

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Amanda Stenberg Joins Universal's Dear Evan Hansen

Amandla Stenberg joins Universal’s Dear Evan Hansen

Universal Pictures is looking to expand its cast for the long-awaited film adaptation of Broadway hit Dear Evan Hansen as Deadline has brought word that The Hate U Give breakout Amandla Stenberg has joined the musical dramedy alongside Booksmart‘s Kaitlyn Dever.

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The 21-year-old star is set to play Alana, a high school senior whose cheery façade and social-media savvy hide a deeper loneliness and isolation and chooses to respond to the death of a classmate by igniting a movement. The role of Alana is being reconceived and expanded for the film adaptation, with Stenberg also partnering with Academy Award-winning duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who composed the music and wrote the lyrics for the Broadway production, to compose a new original song for the film.

Dever is set to star as Zoe, the sister to the classmate, who begins dating the titular character after he enters a relationship with her family. Original star Ben Platt is reportedly set to reprise his role for the film, though sources report Universal could not confirm his casting.

Dear Evan Hansen tells a story exploring themes of teen suicide and mental illness, following a high schooler who’s plagued with social anxiety, eventually making up a story to befriend the family of a classmate of his who had committed suicide. The musical won multiple Tony Awards in 2017, including Best Musical as well as Best Actor and Best Actress for stars Ben Platt and Rachel Bay Jones.

Marc Platt and Adam Siegel will be producing through Marc Platt Productions while Pasek and Paul are expected to be executive producers. Steven Levenson, who authored Dear Evan Hansen, and also won a Tony for Best Book of a Musical, is set to write the script with Wonder‘s Stephen Chbosky attached to direct the project.

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Pasek and Paul previously won an Oscar for Best Song for “City of Stars” from Damien Chazelle’s La La Land. They were also nominated for Best Original Song for “This is Me” from the Hugh Jackman vehicle, The Greatest Showman.

(Photo Credit: Rachel Luna/Getty Images)