Connect with J.W. LYNNE on

Review: Dear Evan Hansen (Broadway)

I've wanted to see Dear Evan Hansen ever since I was introduced to the powerful music through clips on YouTube of Ben Platt singing "Waving Through a Window" and he and Laura Dreyfuss singing "Only Us." In December 2016, when I was in New York for a few days, and the show had just opened at the Music Box Theatre, my mom and I tried to win discount tickets via the Dear Evan Hansen ticket lottery. We entered the lottery ... day, after day, after day, after day ... And we lost each and every time.

Unfortunately, on November 19, 2017, before I made it back to New York, Ben Platt gave his final performance in the show. But I still loved the music of Dear Evan Hansen, and the story intrigued me. (Dear Evan Hansen is about a high school senior suffering from severe social anxiety who is thrust into the spotlight after a tragic event.) And so, during my next trip to New York, in December 2017, I decided to forgo the Broadway ticket lottery, and I purchased tickets to see the show.
Noah Galvin was our Evan. Even from the fifth row of the orchestra, he is very believable as a high school senior. Galvin's singing is effortless and emotional. Early in the first act, he won me over as he sang "Waving Through a Window." Galvin does an excellent job of portraying Evan's crippling awkwardness and anxiety, but I especially enjoyed the change in his personality during his fantasy sequences with Connor. It was as if I could see the playful boy that Evan could be if he were able to shed his insecurities.

Without exception, all of the other actors, all original Broadway cast members, are perfect in their roles. Laura Dreyfuss (Zoe Murphy) is delightful to watch, even though her performance is heartbreaking. Mike Faist (Connor Murphy) is mesmerizing and compelling. Will Roland (Jared Kleinman) and Kristolyn Lloyd (Alana Beck) perfectly embody their characters, and they deftly add some comedic moments to the show.

The most touching moment for me came when the cast sang "You Are Not Alone." They sang the same song in the 2017 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and I really enjoyed that performance. (Even after numerous viewings.) This time though, during the show, their performance truly moved me. And not just a little. There were tears of heartbreak. (The first of many tears throughout Dear Evan Hansen.)

The sets are mostly composed of layers of projections of social media feeds, which fits nicely with the theme of Dear Evan Hansen. Combined with the moody lighting effects, the result is often quite stunning. Also interesting, the small orchestra floats above one corner of the stage.

Dear Evan Hansen will no doubt be around for years to come on Broadway, in touring productions (beginning in October 2018), and (someday) on high school and college stages everywhere. Songs like "Waving through a Window," "You Will Be Found," "For Forever," and "Only Us" speak to the heart, and the story of Dear Evan Hansen breaks the heart. The show makes those of us who feel unheard feel a little less alone. I think that's why Dear Evan Hansen resonates with so many people. Who among us hasn't felt like Evan at least once in our lives? Some of us feel that way a lot of the time. Those are the people who need this show the most.
I did this on December 10th, 2017 in New York City, New York, USA.

Jen (California, USA)

*As a member of the press, Jen received two discounted tickets to a performance of Dear Evan Hansen.
Mom and me in our seats before Dear Evan Hansen
See more of Jen's musical theater reviews here.