If you are a theater person or love Broadway, you know this show. And for those who have not heard of “Dear Evan Hansen,” here is why you should.
“Dear Evan Hansen” is a Broadway musical that focuses on Evan Hansen, a high school senior who struggles with social anxiety disorder. The show follows him through the chaos after the suicide of a fellow student, and how it changes his life. “Dear Evan Hansen” talks about mental health, suicide, friendship, and teen romance. For a full show synopsis, click here.
This show is emotional, real, and talks about mental health and suicide in a way that rarely is seen even on Broadway. Other recent shows that go into a similar depth would be Spring Awakening and Next to Normal–which makes some sense, as “Dear Evan Hansen” is directed by Next to Normal director Michael Greif. “Dear Evan Hansen” depicts the reality of how people deal with someone’s suicide, especially on the family’s part. (And no, I do not count 13 Reasons Why as a good example of how people deal with suicide or mental health, for various reasons.) “Dear Evan Hansen” also shows the difficulties of living with a mental health issue and understanding it.
This show has an incredibly talented cast, filled with newcomers and theater veterans alike. Featured in this show are Tony winners Ben Platt as Evan Hansen and Rachel Bay Jones as Heidi Hansen, and Tony nominee Mike Faist as Connor Murphy. Other standouts include Laura Dreyfuss as Zoe Murphy.
“Dear Evan Hansen” was nominated this year for nine Tony awards. The show won 6 awards: Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Platt), Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Jones), and Best Orchestrations.
The soundtrack for this show is amazing. It is so evident how special and talented not just the cast, but the songwriters (and musicians!) are. The amount of effort poured into every aspect of the music is clear, resulting in a well crafted cast album. “Dear Evan Hansen” was musically directed by Hamilton musical director Alex Lacamoire, who is a three-time recipient of the Best Orchestrations Tony Award (Evan Hansen, Hamilton, In the Heights).
One of the most potent, heart-wrenching songs in the show is “Waving Through a Window.” This song was released as a single with pre-orders of the show’s cast album, which was released on February 3. “Waving Through a Window” is a song that many people may empathize with, describing the painful sensation of being an outcast with a torturous view of everyone else who somehow fits in perfectly. I normally stay professional in posts, but I feel a need to diverge from professionalism here. As someone who grew up with anxiety and, like Evan Hansen, always felt like an outsider, to hear a song that so perfectly described and empathized with how awful it feels felt…simultaneously validating and heartbreaking. It felt like a reminder that I was not alone in my feelings, and that others out there understand what I have been through. Songwriters Justin Paul and Benji Pasek, who also did the music for the Oscar-winning film “La La Land,” show a clear understanding of these sensations and created what I hope will continue to be a song for the outcasts to listen to, to feel a little less alone.
**edit 9/16/17: For reasons unbeknownst to myself, the video of the “Dear Evan Hansen” Tony Awards performance that I initially had featured in this post has since been taken down from YouTube. I apologize, as I wanted to share Platt’s amazing and emotional performance with others.
Side fact: Platt had been sick prior to the Tony Awards and was on vocal rest for the two days leading up to the program in order to be able to perform. Yet Platt got up on the Radio City Music Hall stage and sang as if he had never been sick at all, making his performance that much more amazing.
To listen to the full soundtrack, click here.
To learn more about Dear Evan Hansen–or to buy tickets!–head on over to the show website. You can also follow the show on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr, and subscribe to the Dear Evan Hansen YouTube for more videos!
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