OnStage St. Louis Coumnist
I had a busy weekend in the big apple and was lucky enough to attend Broadway Con and see a few shows. One of the panels was the cast of Dear Evan Hansen. The discussion was exciting as the cast tried to not blurt out spoilers for many attendees who were planning on seeing their show later that night. They talked about their favorite parts to watch when they were not in the scene. They talked about stereotypes that they different characters would have and how they tried to avoid those. Over all it was an amazing 50 minutes of insight on this show that is taking over Broadway. I then went to see the show Sunday night after the closing ceremony of the convention. After the show I went to the stage door. I told Ben Platt that I was at the panel this morning, a smile broke out over his face as he laughed and said 'so you are are tired as I am?!' This moment just proved to me that this cast loves the material, art, and fans. No tiredness could slow the energy of this show.
You can tell a lot about show by the energy before you even step into the theatre. It started when I told people I had been lucky enough to secure tickets to 'Dear Evan Hansen', now playing at the Music Box Theatre in 45th between Broadway and 8th. Everyone reacted the same. Those who have seen in warned me to bring tissues. Those who haven't said that they only heard amazing things. My excitement built as I arrived at the theatre. They was that knowing hush over the audience that seemed to say that we knew something special was about to happen.
At first I have to say I was nervous if the show could live up to the hype. Onstage Blog even posted about how Hamilton has changed musical theatre, but this show could save lives. That's a lot pressure. I was also concerned as I prepared to see that Ben Platt would be playing the character Evan Hansen, who is a young man with anxiety issues. I am happy to say my fears were unfounded. Platt presents to Evan with respect and honesty. At the Broadway Con panel he mentioned that he took time to study many people with different levels of anxiety and neurological issues.
The storytelling is beautiful. From start to finish the characters lead the audience through the pain and grief of loss. The music (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul) is masterful and drives the story on a roller coaster. The lighting (Japhy Weidman)and projection (Peter Nigrini) transforms the stage. Video screens become backdrops and also host the additional cast member of 'social media' as they show scrolling comments as if running on a phone and through Evan's mind. This is an amazing technical effect and gives deeper meaning to the lyrics.
The most powerful scenes for me we're between Evan and his mother Heidi Hansen (Rachel Bay Jones). Platt and Jones are brilliant with the harsh and painful material. Standout songs for me were 'Requiem', 'If I Could Tell Her', and 'Sincerely, Me'. The different styles of these songs showed the depth of the show. The small cast of eight fill the theatre to the breaking point with emotions.
Evan Hansen is having a good day, and will continue to stun and charm audiences. I would recommend this show for all those who have ever felt lonely, misunderstood, or just enjoy a touching story. Check out the shows social media to connect with #YouWillBeFound. Tickets can be found on telecharge.com. Show information at dearevanhansen.com