When was the last show that you found out after the show that there is rarely any pair of dry eyes in the audience? Dear Evan Hanse is one of these shows, and it's not even a tragedy!
The story of Dear Evan Hansen is very relatable. It is a story about a struggling young man with social anxiety. He is unpopular. By chance, he tastes a glimpse of having friends, a loving family, and a girlfriend of his dream. However, to maintain all those, he has to pretend and create so many lies, and the level of pretense escalates. He faces the inflection point, where he needs to make the decision - to lose or to keep.
Three main stars of the show are Evan Hansen, Heidi Hansen, and Zoe Murphy.
Sam Tutty played the role of Evan Hansen. While his tone is not as smooth as Ben Platt, he is a perfect Evan Hansen in his delivery of the character. I would even say that the uneven volume and pushes of high notes sometimes even give the characters and songs even more drama.
Zoe Murphy by Lucy Anderson killed it with Requiem. The song has perfect lyrics and timing, but her delivery of the song itself was perfect in every way. This is one a few moments that I feel that this version is better than original Broadway records.
Heidi Hansen by Rebecca McKinnis drew me to tears with So Big So Small. I think being a mother herself (mentioned in the show booklet) makes her feel very connected to the character. The realization of being imperfect and the love are very clearly delivered in the performance.
Lyrics & arrangement
The lyrics and arrangement of the songs are the most beautiful part of this musical. I don't feel like the songs are crazily difficult like For Good or Defying Gravity from Wicked, or Phantom of the Opera. However, it was beautifully written to effectively elaborate the emotion and feeling of the characters - and not in a cliche manner either.
One of the songs that touch me deeply was For Forever. While I felt that a lot of people may think this is quite a cliche and that the song was not real (hint: it's a tell-tale song), I can totally feel that realness in the song. Why? You have to remember that the song is basically a secret and deep-down wish of Evan himself. He didn't sing it just to tell lies; he sang it to express his wish that he has a best friend who would pick him up when he falls.
You Will Be Found was a tear-jerker for me. I can never listen or sing that song without breaking into tears. The song has a wonderful message that everyone needs to give to each other and tell yourself:
Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
And when you're broken on the ground
You will be found
So let the sun come streaming in
'Cause you'll reach up and you'll rise again
Lift your head and look around
You will be found
Why is this important to me?
When I first think about writing this blog, I originally even think about writing self-reflection on this musical. The show somewhat resembles my life. While I'm not as socially anxious as Evan Hansen, I still have a similar feeling when I talk to people. He is also not very popular - in fact, he is the invisible person in the class. In my case, I also would ask the same question sometimes, will anyone notice if I'm gone?
One of the main conflict of the story is also about reaching out. Evan keeps telling his mother that he is fine and that he is doing great, when, in fact, he is completely broken inside. I too tell people way too often that I'm fine and never think that anyone would care to hear the truth. We all love painting a perfect picture of ourselves, and rarely ask for help when it matters - at least I did a lot.
A lot of focus around this story has been about generation gap and parenting, but I do believe that Dear Evan Hansen has given me a lot more to think about: taking responsibility for your own action, paying more attention to people around you because you may have missed someone who is asking for help, and most importantly, being true to yourself.
With that, I really love the last latter from the musical:
Dear Evan Hansen:
Today is going to be a good day and here’s why. Because today, no matter what else, today at least… you’re you. No hiding, no lying. Just… you. And that’s… that’s enough.
Maybe someday, everything that happened… maybe it will all feel like a distant memory.
Maybe someday no one will even remember about The Connor Project. Or me. Maybe someday, some other kid is going to be standing here, staring out at the trees, feeling so… alone, wondering if maybe the world might look different from all the way up there. Better. Maybe he’ll start climbing, one branch at a time, and he’ll keep going, even when it seems like he can’t find another foothold. Even when it feels… hopeless. Like everything is telling him to let go. This time, maybe this time, he won’t let go. He’ll just… hold on and he’ll keep going.
He’ll keep going until he sees the sun.