Last weekend I took a train from Rochester to NYC to see my friend and watch Dear Evan Hansen. I followed the hype train surrounding the show and figured after watching Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway, this show had to be top-tier. I bought the soundtrack and listened to it nonstop. I have to say it’s one of the best soundtracks for a show I’ve listened to. You Will Be Found and So Big / So Small always make me cry, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. But, Dear Evan Hansen definitely is not infallible.
The show begins with the stage open, media from different social media sites are shown with the little notification sounds playing, and a bed, Evan’s, is center stage. Lights go out and brought back to see Evan sitting on his bed trying to write the letter to himself because he has very high social anxiety, so the letter is to help boost his confidence. Does Anybody Have a Map moves along, the bed disappears on its own and in comes Connor’s family. Connor doesn’t want to go to school, and his mom tries to make him but it doesn’t help that he’s high. One of my favorite things in this play honestly is the set design.
It’s very minimalistic in design, but has a lot of technological pieces. The set of the bed, kitchen table and couch are on platforms that move on stage on their own by some machination under the stage and directed from off stage. The beds for Connor and Evan is the same with just a switch of the bedding and knickknacks. I thing the couch is done somehow similar or they just used the same one for both homes. Lighting is done well, but nothing really outstanding. These pieces really help frame the music of the play.
The music is honestly one of my favorite aspects of this musical. It’s emotional. It gets you going, and knows when to bring you back down. The dynamics are amazing. The pit is in the air and towards the back of the stage which I like as a difference from the normal put in front and below the stage.
We had a stand in for our matinée performance on Saturday, his name is Michael Lee Brown, and he is such an amazing actor. Because of the character has such high anxiety, he has these small ticks like bending his ankle whenever he gets super nervous talking to someone or moving his arms in a certain way. Michael Brown kept up the same ticks throughout the entire show. I loved his performance and everyone else in the production. I liked the decision to keep Connor popping up throughout the entire play instead of just doing a voice or something after the character (Spoiler) kills himself.
Dear Evan Hansen is a good musical. Did it deserve the Tony for best musical for 2017, in my honest opinion no. After seeing Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, even with the ridiculousness over the Pierre fiasco, is on a whole other level. But I digress. Dear Evan Hansen is a good show to see. If you can’t afford the tickets, wait for the tour because I honestly don’t think it was worth the $270 per ticket we paid for, but that’s show business. It’ll make you laugh, cry and everything in between.