If you haven’t already been inducted into the cult that is “Fensens,” then you are in for a doozy.

Dear Evan Hansen is the story of teenage struggle that hits emotional depths previously experienced with famed, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Fault in Our Stars. It is a story that graces the lowest points of death and the highest blessings of life, with only a tight knit cast of eight to carry the heavy-hitting plot.

The worst fate a socially anxious teenager could face is being on display for all to see, which is exactly what happens to Evan Hansen after his not-so-popular classmate dies by suicide and Evan finds himself entangled in a perjury web of his own making. At first, everything seems to go his way. He’s wormed his way into a family that cares for him when his single, overworked mother doesn’t have the time, made friends, got a girlfriend, and he’s finally overcoming his stifling anxiety. In the end, it all comes crashing down around him thanks to an overly inquisitive associate, harried mother, and the crushing guilt he feels for lying to a grieving family and Facebook. It’s not a perfect ending for Evan Hansen, but he’s finally settled into himself, and that’s enough.

 

Stephen Christopher Anthony pays amazing homage to Ben Platt’s original performance as Evan Hansen; he and the rest of the cast put on an incredible show, and audiences truly feel the grief, frustration, hope, love, and humor the characters experience as the story progresses.

Dear Evan Hansen
Noah Kieserman as “Connor Murphy” and Stephen Christopher Anthony as “Evan Hansen” in the North American touring company of “Dear Evan Hansen.” Photo by Matthew Murphy.

That said, the plot feels very much like ‘hurry up and wait. And wait. And wait some more,’ because while the songs are tremendous and delivered with emotional perfection, they start to drag. The set itself is simple: the orchestra perched upstage, multi-purpose electronic screens hanging in different spots, and platforms with beds and tables rolled in automatically. It creates an intimate atmosphere, matching the conversations taking place. So, in this reviewer’s opinion, during moments of confession, sometimes words are more powerful when spoken rather than sung in a grand number that doesn’t quite land the heartstring-tugging punches a frank, in-your-face conversation would.

Granted, there are several scenes where conversations devolve into dysfunctional family bickering – and that is exactly the realistic angst audiences need – however, it’s not as realistic or effective that a mother would break into song lamenting her faults as a parent when her child has just confessed to attempting suicide.

Cast from Dear Evan Hansen
Stephen Christopher Anthony as “Evan Hansen” and the North American touring company of “Dear Evan Hanson.” Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Regardless, there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience, and the cast faced an immediate standing ovation even before the lights fell on their last notes of “Finale.” Appropriate for audiences thirteen and older, Dear Evan Hansen is a show that will not be forgotten anytime soon, and you will be found with plenty of tissues in the Buell Theatre, May 31 – June 5.

-By Olivia M.

 

 

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