Dear Evan Hansen: New On Broadway

We’ve all heard of Broadway. The sets, costumes, and musical numbers transport us into the world of theatre as we watch the characters come to life. There are some iconic shows that we all have on our bucket list to see like Hamilton (if anyone has tickets let me know), Wicked, Aladdin, The Lion King, and many more. Throughout the years, more shows have come and gone on Broadway and the most recent show to debut is Dear Evan Hansen.

In the summer, my brother heard a commercial advertising the new Broadway show on the radio and five minutes later he had me jump on the computer to buy tickets for the week of Thanksgiving. I was super excited for it since it was going to be the first Broadway show I was going to see live. When we arrived at the Music Box Theater, we realized that the show had technically not opened yet, it was in its preview period. The ushers assured us that the show was no different than it was going to be on opening night.

The first thing I noticed when I walked to my seat was the minimalistic set. The stage had circular platforms with a very simple piece of furniture as props on top. There was nothing special about it. Fast forward to the beginning of the show, and Evan Hansen (played by Ben Platt whom you may recognize from his role in Pitch Perfect) sits on his bed. He starts typing a letter to himself starting off with "Dear Evan Hansen", and ends up going on about how his anxiety and its impact on his life.  Writing these letters was an assignment from his therapist who tells him that it will help him have a more positive outlook on life. We figure out at this point that Evan has a crush on Zoe, a junior at his school, whom he is too afraid to talk to. His mom comes in and urges Evan to finish writing his letter and have people sign the cast he has on his broken arm during his first day of senior year. 

As Evan proceeds during his first day of school, he meets a peppy overachiever, a sarcastic family friend, and a mean outcast named Connor who is also Zoe’s brother. Connor signs Evan’s cast right before he pushes him. They both later have an encounter in the computer lab where Evan finishes writing his letter to himself. He gets frustrated and eventually writes down how he feels like no one cares about him and how he can’t even get Zoe to talk to him. When Evan prints out the letter, Connor sees it and confiscates it after seeing that Evan had written about Zoe. The next day, Evan gets called down to the principal’s office at school where he learns that Connor had committed suicide. When he passed away, he had Evan’s letter in his pockets. Connor’s parents assume that Evan's letter is Connor’s suicide note. 

The whole play surrounds this very concept. Evan lies that Connor had written his suicide note to him and pretends that they were best friends. This takes Evan on a whole journey with his classmates, his mom, Zoe, and Connor’s parents. 

Dear Evan Hansen has phenomenal musical numbers. The songs embody the pain that the characters are feeling in each step of the show but also allow the audience to relate to them. A simple set accompanies the music and there are no outrageous dance numbers. The simplicity of everything let me focus on the acting and the storyline. Coming from someone who has dealt heavily with anxiety, this show moved me. Evan’s first solo song, “Waving Through A Window”, made me tear up. Those tears only got worse throughout the show. By the intermission, I didn’t think that it could get any better. I was wrong. The show just kept getting better and better as it focused on the different issues that come up in friendship. The entire audience was crying by the end of the show, and the cast was given a standing ovation. 

I fell in love with Dear Evan Hansen. It was completely different than what I expected it to be, but in the best ways possible. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack non-stop as a result. In my opinion, Dear Evan Hansen is a show that you should definitely go see. If you are suffering from anxiety or just feel like you don’t belong, you will relate very well with this show. Since there is a mature theme and some mature language, I would not suggest bringing a young child with you. All in all, I give this show 5 out of 5 stars.

Dear Evan Hansen officially opens on Broadway on December 4, 2016 at the Music Box Theater. 

 

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