Dear Evan Hansen

 

                                                                                                            Photo Courtesy of: Grayson Porter

In the Music Box Theater on Broadway, a boy sits on a bed, staring at his computer, wanting desperately to be seen by the world around him. This is Evan Hansen. A teenager with a social anxiety disorder, he has a crush on a girl he can barely speak to, a mother constantly working to support her family and a friend who only talks to him so his parents will keep paying for his car insurance. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for LA LA LAND’s “City of Stars,” have written a heartbreakingly beautiful score. From the humor of “Sincerely, Me” to the sorrow of “Words Fail,” you’ll constantly want to sing along or avoid realizing just how much of your makeup is now on your tissues. Ben Platt, who you might know as Benji from Pitch Perfect, puts on a devastating performance as Evan. From the start of the show he completely captures your attention and has you sobbing within the first twenty minutes.

 

                                                                                      Photo Courtesy of: Grayson Porter

 

The show opens with Evan working on the assignment his therapist gave him, which are letters to himself to help him build his confidence. Heidi, his mother, comes in to try to encourage him, but doesn’t really know how to get through to her son. Cynthia Murphy is much in the same boat, her own son, Connor, is estranged. Through the first day of his senior year, Evan’s day goes about as well as he thinks it will, leading to him rewriting his letter to himself. Connor finds him and, despite having pushed him down earlier, becomes the first person to sign his cast. They seem to bond for a moment before Connor sees his sister Zoie’s name in Evan’s letter to himself. Believing Evan is trying to hurt him, he runs off with the letter. A few days later, Evan is called to the principal's office, where he is given his informed that Connor has committed suicide and the Dear Evan Hansen letter was found in his pocket. His parents believe Connor wrote the letter, and that Evan was his closest friend. Evan is invited to the Murphy’s house to talk about Connor and, wanting to help with their grief, fabricates a lie that quickly grows into something bigger than he could have imagined.

The show follows Evan’s journey as he navigates the tumultuous world of high school, but it’s about so much more than just teenage angst. There’s so much that can be said about this musical, how it looks at what community looks like in the modern world, how the themes of loneliness and grief are so beautifully teased out. It explores how people connect, how they react in the face of tragedy, and addresses the realities of mental illness and suicide. When I first decided to listen to the soundtrack, knowing nothing about the story, I was blown away by just how deeply it touched me. It captures that feeling of isolation that so many of us feel and reminds us that we aren’t the only ones feeling this way. It is a show that anyone can relate to and everyone should watch.

In a world that is full of people just wanting to connect, Dear Evan Hansen is a fresh reminder that you are not alone. Ben Platt will be giving his last performance on November 19.

 

The soundtrack can be found on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube. Tickets for the Broadway run can be bought here and a National Tour will launch in 2018.