A women at intermission sitting next to me asked me “Why is this show so popular”? I thought about it a few seconds and my answer was that “It has a little something for everybody.” By that comment I meant that it had teen suicide, a person who was socially awkward, some really good songs in it and a good story behind it. Dear Evan Hansen will not go in the books as a great musical. It is, however, everybody’s musical. In the era of teen suicide awareness and people on the look-out for loners who are most likely to commit suicide, it keeps the audience interest.
Dear Evan Hansen is a show about…well, Evan Hansen. Evan’s mother is a single mom who always worries about her loner son, who barely leaves his room. Evan is infatuated with Zoe Murphy who doesn’t even know his name, or him for that matter. Evan has no friends at school. His cousin, Jared, only talks to him out of his parent’s insistence. Even though he is alone in the world, Evan seems happy with his life. He knows that even though his father left him and his mother that he has unconditional love from his mom who would do anything for him.
When Zoe’s brother, Connor commits suicide, Evan has an opening to seize on Connor’s death. He fabricates, with the help of Jared, their friendship before Connor’s death. Connor’s parent believe this wholeheartedly, as they want something good to hang their hearts on. Zoe is much more difficult to convince as she knew her brother better than her parents. She asks Evan pointed questions and eventually believes him, even falls for him. Evan has an inner soul awakening moment throughout. Does the loser nerd come clean, or does he enjoy his popularity?
The show has some really great fun to it. The teenage jokes, the testosterone laced kids are all good, as are all the adults. The play flows nicely. In saying that there is a little something for everybody, the set is wonderful. A contemporary set with the musicians set high above the stage, David Korins’ set makes it feel like a jazz hall rather than a Broadway stage. The screens, the set are all really good and enjoyable for the audience.
Songs like,”Waving Through a Window,” “So Big/So Small,” and “To Break in a Glove” are all wonderful. While “Requiem” and “Sincerely, Me”are also good, the first three aforementioned, are standouts. Michael Lee Brown and Taylor Trench who play Evan Hansen, Micheal Lee Brown on Wednesday and Saturday matinees are both qualified on this stage. Trench moves about with great range to his voice. His emotional acting range is also phenomenal.
Danny Mefford’s choreography keeps the show moving. The movement numbers in Hansen are really great. The actors move in and out adding fuel to some already great songs. All the actors are able to sing as well act. Mallory Brechtel has a beautiful vocal range, she is also a great actress. Micheal Park as Larry Murphy is the believable whack on the back dad. A man’s man who cannot believe his son turned out like this. Jennifer Laura Thompson is that mom we feel for. Having just lost her son, she brings this solemnness to the stage.
Dear Evan Hansen, the 2017 Tony Award winner at The Music Box, has something for everyone. It has a great set, great acting with fantastic songs that go nicely with these complicated lives.