Review: Dear Evan Hansen, starring Ben Platt
A letter that was never meant to be seen, and a lie that was never meant to be told. That's the premise of Dear Evan Hansen, the musical that is quickly becoming as hot as Hamilton.
The star of the show is Ben Platt, and Dear Evan Hansen marks his first time originating a role on Broadway after previously playing Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon. Platt has been with the show since it's first performances in Washington D.C., in 2015, brought it off Broadway, and of course came with the show to Broadway.
Evan is a high school senior, struggling with anxiety and depression. He is assigned to write letters to himself by his therapist about why it'll be a good day. The plot is set into motion when Connor Murphy, played by Mike Faist, sees the letter that Evan is writing to himself, which mentions Zoe (Connor's sister, played by Laura Dreyfuss). Later that night, Connor kills himself and his parents find Evan's letter which they believe to be Connor's suicide note.
The remainder of the cast all play important roles. Will Roland plays Jared, a "family friend" of Evan, who only talks to him so his parents will pay for his car insurance. Kristolynn Lloyd plays Alana, a high-achieving student who assists Jared and Evan with the Connor Project. Rachel Bay Jones plays Heidi Hansen, Evan's mom, and Michael Park and Jennifer Laura Thompson play Connor and Zoe's parents.
The music is unlike your typical Broadway show tune. Forgoing the Broadway tradition of flashy numbers and characters bursting into song and dance, the songs weave their way into the story, and while there are not a lot of them, each has a deep emotional meaning. Similarly, the set of the show is not a typical Broadway set. With moving set pieces to create different rooms and screens that show images of social media, a key part of the story, the set allows you to be a part of Evan's world, seeing Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, and Skype images.
Dear Evan Hansen is one of those rare productions that allows people to leave their pre-conceived notions of the show at the door, and spend nearly three hours immersed in the story and able to understand the pain that many people go through, with characters like Jared and Connor acting as windows to see what is going on in Evan's head, or why he acts a certain way. The standout numbers from the show include "Waving Through a Window" which has now become the show's anthem and has been performed on many late shows, "You Will Be Found", "So Big/So Small", and "Requiem". Every member of the small cast plays their character with a deep emotional understanding and allows you to take some time and understand the complicated world that we live in.
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