I just saw Dear Evan Hansen, one of the most profound Broadway shows I have seen in a very, very long time, and I’m so glad that I saw it with my 13 year-old daughter. I literally can’t stop thinking about this production for so many reasons. For one thing it is masterful in its ability to combine music and storytelling in such a powerful, thought-provoking way. The actors are also skillful and just about perfection – each one takes their role to the ultimate place in terms of the story. The direction and set (by Hamilton’s David Korins) help guide the story along excellently, as well. But more than anything, this show is timely and current. It takes a sensitive issue, in this case, teenage suicide, and brings it to the masses, incorporating creativity, sensitivity, social media and beautiful singing. My heart is so full right now.
Ben Platt brings the character of Evan Hansen to live in this Broadway production, and he is just about flawless. He plays a teenager who is quite lonely. His mom is raising him alone, and she’s doing the best she can but she’s never around. To combat his loneliness and confusion about life, she medicates him, sends him to a therapist, to whom she expects him to write letters to about his feelings. When one of his letters ends up on the printer at the library and is picked up by another lonely student, events unfold and entangle Evan in a complicated web of lies that both lifts him up and brings him down.
Platt’s voice is a dream, and he basically narrates the story and sings his heart out during the course of the show, that has a score by Ben Pasek and Justin Pasek, who also happened to write the lyrics for La La Land, which I saw the same day. Platt is also very unbelievable as a tortured teenager, and my heart bled for him as his star grew and ultimately fell by the show’s end. The supporting cast is simply equally sublime: Laura Dreyfuss, Rachel Bay Jones, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Mike Faist, Will Roland, Kristolyn Lloyd and Michael Park. The show combines theater professionals by so many of my favorite shows: choreography by Danny Mefford (Fun Home), and direction by three-time Tony nominee Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal, If/Then). Kudos to playwright Steven Levenson for bringing this play so close to home with his brilliant talent. Lastly, I could not help but hear Alex Lacamoire’s brilliant musical direction.
This play is not one to miss. Don’t walk, RUN.
Disclosure: I was not provided with complimentary tickets to see this play.