Music Review: Dear Evan Hansen

Jacob Bryant, Staff Writer

To the joy of many fans, the studio cast album of Dear Evan Hansen was released to the public on February 3.

Dear Evan Hansen was first performed on July 10, 2015, at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.  On November 14, 2016, the show was performed on Broadway for the first time.  In its short run, the musical has already won several awards (both Obie and Drama Desk awards).

The musical revolves around the titular Evan Hansen, played by Ben Platt.  Evan is a high school senior with a social anxiety disorder.  Over the summer, Evan fell out of a tree, breaking his arm.  Evan tries to use this as an opportunity to confront his social anxiety- he talks to people under the pretense of signing his cast, hoping to befriend some of them.  Evan’s cast plays a symbolic role in the production, easily recognizable from the show’s poster.

Before the first day of his senior year, Evan Hansen wrote a letter to himself to serve as a daily up-bringer.  However, the letter accidentally falls into the possession of Evan’s classmate, Connor Murphy.

Shortly thereafter, Evan learns that Connor has committed suicide.  Evan’s letter is found in his possession, believing it to have been written by Connor himself.  The Murphys comes to believe that Evan and Connor had been close. Evan feels guilty because he wants Connor’s family to remember their son as a better person than he was.  Rather than explaining the situation to them, Evan creates evidence of a non-existent friendship with Connor.  A series of letters, each entitled “Dear Evan Hansen”, chronicle Evan’s “friendship” with Connor and his attempts to help get his life back on track.

Over time, Connor’s memory begins to fade.  Hoping to keep anyone else from ending up the same as Connor, Evan starts “The Connor Project”, determined to make a difference in his community.

Dear Evan Hansen has already started to soar in its short run, rising alongside the ranks of other Broadway shows such as Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Hamilton, and Book of Mormon, to name a few.

However, what has set Evan Hansen most apart from other shows is its emotional depth.  The songs of Dear Evan Hansen relay both sentiment and hope, highlighting what is possible with enough dedication in a tight-knit community.  By the end, the rousing lyrics leave you feeling a strong sense of optimism.  The message of Dear Evan Hansen is a powerful one, giving this the potential to become one of the biggest Broadway musicals in a while.