When thinking of broadway smash-hits, singing, dancing and heartwarming moments are what comes to mind… so the opposite of real life. It is nearly impossible to come up with a musical that presents the audience with a blunt predicament we have all faced, but this new groundbreaking show breaks that fairytale stigma. Introducing Dear Evan Hansen written by Steven Levenson, music by Tony award – winning pair Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and starring Ben Platt and Glee’s Laura Dreyfuss. This hard-hitting musical tackles the heavy subjects of bullying, suicide, and social anxiety while still capturing the collective struggle of just being a teenager trying to get through life. Unlike other well-known musicals such as Rent that deals with some heavy subjects such as those with HIV and AIDS, Dear Evan Hansen is full of moments we can all relate to while still being lighthearted enough to want to connect with the characters.
The story centers around a boy in high school named Evan (Ben Platt), who suffers from severe social anxiety, who just wants to feel included and a part of something bigger than himself. Evan ends up getting mixed up in a misunderstood situation when Connor Murphy (Mike Faist), becomes the victim of an unspeakable tragedy. Connor’s sister, Zoe (Laura Dreyfus), happens to be the love interest of Evan, and what follows suit changes everyone involved for forever. While dealing with heavier topics, it includes the troubles of marriage and the strained relationships between parents and their children, making it an all-inclusive experience. While dealing with dwarf topics and taking on a new side to broadway, the show is being slammed with glowing reviews on the writing, acting, and music, with the New York Times calling it “a gorgeous new musical for anyone with a beating heart.” The show has left not only the audience crying and closer to themselves than before, but the actors as well.
“I get a lot of letters from young people who have struggled with similar things and who felt sort of seen by this character.” -Ben Platt on his experience with Dear Evan Hansen
This new take on musical theatre could be just what the community needs in order to connect and inspire those who suffer from mental illness and make them feel like they belong.
The show is predicted to be a major hit following in footsteps similar to the new record breaking musical Hamilton.
Dear Evan Hansen does something unique in pursuit of telling the story of a boy and his mental illness: it brings light onto the subject without romanticizing it. There’s nothing “tragically beautiful” displayed through Evan’s character, just an accurate human representation of social anxiety, and all that comes with it. In fact, the writing does an exquisite job of carefully unwrapping and cautiously displaying each topic it chooses to bring onto the stage while presenting it in a gorgeous set of lights and emotions that can not be topped.
And even while the show deals with heart wrenching subject matters, it never fails to leave the audience with uplifting words of promise and encouragement that seem to make the struggles of everyday life just a little easier.
“Even when the dark comes crashing through, when you need a friend to carry you, when you’re broken on the ground, you will be found”