If you are looking for the best things to do in New York next month, why not take in a Broadway show? After all, it’s one of the top priorities on most tourist lists.
One of the big hits on Broadway right now is a stage musical called Dear Evan Hansen. There are many shows to choose from, but this is one that resonates with many emotions.
Dear Evan Hansen is getting rave reviews from critics and individuals alike. It is one of those shows that appeals to the masses. Hamilton, move over, there’s a new show in town!
What is the Show About?
Dear Evan Hansen is about a true event that occurred year ago. The play examines the impact of suicide and how it affects those around the victim. For the stage play, Paul and Benj Pasek created the music and lyrics and brought the story to life onstage. They worked from the book and play written by Steven Levenson. Even if you aren’t a big fan of musicals, there is no denying that Dear Evan Hansen is a great show. It is well deserving of its place on Broadway.
The main character is Evan, a high school senior who has a hard time connecting with others. This limits his ability to make friends. His difficulty connecting with others causes him great distress. Unfortunately, it’s caused by a social awkwardness that he takes medication for.
During a therapy session, his therapist suggests daily letters to himself. Evan decides to take the advice and begins writing to himself. Unfortunately, another student sees one of Evan’s printed letters and steals it. This student, Connor, is also a loner but not a very nice one. He scrawls his name on Evan’s otherwise blank cast, which is a pivot point in the storyline.
Not long after this interaction, the mean-spirited Conner commits suicide. His actions set everything in motion. When Connor’s parents find Evan’s letter in their son’s pocket after his death, they assume he and Evan were close. They turn to him to find out why their son was unhappy. Certain that the two boys were best friends, they feel that Evan will be able to tell them what they need to know.
Evan doesn’t want to hurt Connor’s parents even more, so he decides to lie about the friendship. It’s not quite a lie, since he goes along with what they believe to be true, creating an unwitting deception. It’s a decision that takes the story down a dark path. A falsehood of this magnitude is not easy to hide and it’s bound to have tricky consequences.
To make matters more complicated, Evan also has a crush on the deceased’s sister, Zoe. For an inept teenage boy, maintaining the lie and managing his own emotions is difficult.
His duplicity makes Evan a social media sensation and would-be star among his peers. It’s what every awkward teenage outcast dreams of, but fame doesn’t come without a cost. As Evan becomes more entangled in his deceptions, he’s caught in a web of his own lies.
Watching the story unfold has the audience moving through an array of emotions. Cast members make comments that ease the tension a little. It makes it bearable to watch Evan stumble through the high school experience and the results of his lie.
A Dear Evan Hansen Review
This show is everything a Broadway show should be. It will make you smile, make you laugh, and then make you cry. Most of all, it will whisk you back to your high school days. Back to when loners were weird and everyone wanted to sit at the popular kids’ table.
Dear Evan Hansen is an honest look at what drives us. The need for acceptance can be powerful. Indeed, it can be so strong as to cause us to do things we never would have considered before. That is the story of Evan, an out of place student with a tendency to blurt out what he didn’t mean to say in the first place. A boy who finally finds social acceptance in the death of an enemy.
From the start, you’re rooting for other people to notice Evan and talk to him. When it finally happens, the transformation is more unpleasant than expected. While you’re still on the teenage boy’s side, it becomes more and more difficult to see his downward spiral.
It’s not an easy play to watch, but beautifully executed. Everything from the songs to the lighting and music creates an experience you can’t miss. Even the actor’s reactions feel genuine. Wit and humor temper the harsher, real world elements. The mix of both humor and reality prevent this play from becoming too depressing.
And then, there is the music.
Everyone knows Broadway for its amazing musical numbers. Most shows feature a couple of standouts that critics talk about. When you read a Dear Evan Hansen review, you’ll see every audience member has a different favorite. There are no standouts, no one song that everyone gushes over. Each one resonates with a different part of the audience.
That’s because these songs are so well-crafted that they connect with people. Parents of a challenging child will feel empathy with the mother singing Anybody Have a Map? During Evan’s crooning of If I Could Tell Her, unrequited love prevails. Every person who has wished they could speak to their crush relates to Evan during the song. Waving Through a Window will remind any shy or awkward person of never quite fitting in with the crowd.
With 14 amazing songs to enhance the emotional appeal of the show, there’s something for everyone. Dear Evan Hansen is worth seeing even if only for the music.
A Heartfelt Message
The show has many messages to teach the audience. There is a focus on being an outsider and mental illness. You’ll also see themes around teen suicide, the power of deception, and the power of social media. It conveys each of these messages so powerfully that the audience is awestruck by the end. Many theatergoers leave with emotions running high. This is partly thanks to the poignant portrayal of the characters by talented actors.
Nearly every Dear Evan Hansen review focuses on Evan. While those who have played the role are all excellent actors, they each have their own take on the project. Critics who have seen the show when Ben Platt acted the part of Evan return to see how his replacement fares. They aren’t disappointed.
Tackling so many controversial subjects in one play should prove confusing and mixed. Instead, it actually adds layers to the script that make it more realistic. After all, who doesn’t know someone dealing with mental illness? Or had a rash experience with social media? The trends are there, set in a modern world that embraces song and dance.
How It All Started
You can thank Justin Paul and Benj Pasek for the existence of Dear Evan Hansen. Review after review shows that these two know their stuff. They originally met with Stacey Mindich, a New York show producer, in 2010 to discuss the idea.
Pasek came up with the concept for Dear Evan Hansen based on a real life experience he had. As a young man, Pasek watched as his classmates claimed they were good friends with a dead student. The experience stuck with him and he decided to turn it into a musical later in life.
The concept was a sound one . . . a few simple missteps, a poor decision, and the desire to make others happy is something we can all relate to. Audiences respond to the themes included in the show and that’s because it is all so raw and so very, very real.
The play took its own sweet time getting to the stage. Pasek and Paul solidified the concept for the show in 2010. Playwright Steven Levenson didn’t start the book until the following year. It wasn’t until 2012 that the director, Michael Grief, joined the team. After that, things began to move a little faster.
Recruiting the Best Actors
Ben Platt and Rachel Bay Jones, who played Evan and his mother, came in at the beginning. They were present for the first readings and became vital parts of the story. Both actors brought their own brand of intensity to the stage. They built their characters from the ground up and had a major impact on how the show developed.
Other actors joined in early, including Michael Park and Jennifer Laura Thompson. They played Connor’s parents. By the second reading, Will Roland and Mike Faist became part of the cast. So did Laura Dreyfuss, who played Evan’s love interest.
Early on, there were many casting changes. Those who stuck around were loyal to the show for years, though some turnover did occur. Ben Platt left the show after a year and turned his role over to others. In 2018, Taylor Trensch replaced Noah Galvin as the lead character, Evan. Mallory Bechtel would also replace Laura Dreyfuss in the role of Zoe in 2018.
A Legend Is Born
Over the next year, the musical saw many changes and tweaks. It was almost perfect by the time the cast performed two special invite-only shows in early 2015. Pasek and Paul made a few more changes before the world premiere in July 2015.
Dear Evan Hansen took five years to move from a simple deal with a producer to taking over on stage. It quickly made a big impression and moved to Off-Broadway in 2016. Just a few short months later, Dear Evan Hansen debuted at the Belasco Theater.
The official Broadway opening for the play was in December of 2016. The little play, thought up by two men with a big imagination, had finally reached the big leagues. By May, the Tony awards nominated Dear Evan Hansen in nine different categories. It won six of those nominations, firmly cementing its popularity on Broadway.
The Dear Evan Hansen Reviews Are In
Dear Evan Hansen has a large number of positive reviews across the board. The show is getting five stars from nearly everyone who sees it. Sites like TripAdvisor are blowing up with all the reviews.
The New York Times’ Dear Evan Hansen Review:
The musical is ideal for families looking for something yeastier and more complex than the usual sugary diversions. But then it should also appeal to just about anyone who has ever felt, at some point in life, that he or she was trapped “on the outside looking in,” as one lyric has it.
And Entertainment Weekly gave the show an A rating, stating that:
Leaving a new musical with a great song or two running through your head is a rare but exciting thing. Leaving with about 10 great songs running through your head is pretty much unheard of. But that’s the power of Dear Evan Hansen, which just opened on Broadway after a world premiere at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage and a stint at Second Stage Off-Broadway.
How to See Dear Evan Hansen
If you want to see this award-winning show, you can get tickets at the Music Box Theater. It’s located at 239 West 45th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue. Tickets are also available online at dearevanhansen.com.
The running time is two hours and 25 minutes with one intermission. During that time, you can stretch your legs, use the bathroom, and get a snack. Stick around after the performance. The actors usually make an appearance and are happy to sign playbills. It’s an excellent time to add to your Broadway memorabilia.
Tickets are between $45 and $155 for regular tickets. Premium tickets will run you between $199 and $250 and include the best seats in the house. You save money by purchasing tickets at the box office. This way, you save the per-ticket service charge of $7.50 and a per-order handling fee.