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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. And so we didn't get to see the show. I figured we would try again during my next trip to New York.

On November 19, 2017, before I made it back to New York again, Ben Platt gave his final performance of the show, and my heart broke. I would never get to see him play Evan Hansen. But I still loved the music of Dear Evan Hansen, and the other original Broadway cast members were still there, and the story intrigued me. (Dear Evan Hansen is about a friendless high school senior suffering from severe social anxiety who is thrust into the spotlight after a tragic event.) And so, I decided to spring for tickets to see the show with my mom during my trip to New York in December 2017.

Noah Galvin* was our Evan. My first impression of Galvin was that, even from the fifth row of the orchestra, he is very believable as a high school senior, and so he is physically perfect for the role, but he was perfect in other ways as well. Galvin's singing is effortless and emotional. Early in the first act, he won me over as he sang "Waving Through a Window."

In the 2017 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Galvin and some of the other cast members sang "You Are Not Alone," and I really enjoyed the performance. (Even after numerous viewings.) This time though, during the show, the performance actually moved me. And not just a little. There were tears of heartbreak. (The first of many tears throughout Dear Evan Hansen.)

While Galvin does an excellent job of portraying Evan's crippling awkwardness and anxiety, I enjoyed the change in his personality during his fantasy sequences with Connor. It is cool to see the boy who Evan is underneath all of his fears. Even though he is new to the role, Galvin seems very comfortable portraying Evan. He has great onstage chemistry with the other actors, especially Laura Dreyfuss (Zoe Murphy), Michael Park (Larry Murphy), and Mike Faist (Connor Murphy).

Dreyfuss has perfected Zoe. She was absolutely delightful to watch, even while she was breaking my heart with her acting.

Faist is a wonderful standout as Connor. His performance 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 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.

So, is it worth going to see Dear Evan Hansen now that Ben Platt is no longer in the lead role? Absolutely!

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. There's a good reason for that. 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)

Mom and me in our seats before Dear Evan Hansen
*Michael Lee Brown is currently playing the role of Evan Hansen on Wednesday and Saturday matinees, and Brown is understudying the role for other performances. Taylor Trensch will step into the role of Evan in mid-January 2018.
*Jen attended a performance of Dear Evan Hansen as a member of the press.
See more of Jen's musical theater reviews here.