Dear Evan Hansen Scores In Certain Areas, Falls Flat In Others
This weekend, I had the chance to check out Dear Evan Hansen, the musical that is generating tons of buzz and expected to be the contender for the coveted Best Musical at the Tony Awards this year. Prior to going, I had heard tons of praise regarding the show, and thus was super pumped to see it. Unfortunately, while I found a lot to love in the show- mostly in the first act- I felt that there were many areas where the show fell flat.
Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of Evan Hansen, played brilliantly by Ben Platt (who, it’s worth noting, absolutely deserves a Tony Award for Best Actor In A Musical). Evan is a social misfit entering his Senior year of high school. He’s very into a girl named Zoe Murphy (also fantastically played by Laura Dreyfuss), but too shy to really approach her. When a tragic event strikes Zoe’s family, though, Evan becomes immeshed in their tragedy in a way he never expected, and it takes the audience on an emotional journey with him.
While I don’t want to say too much more regarding the plot- as it would give it away- I will say that the first act is fantastic, start to finish. There are many musical numbers to appreciate, including Waving Through A Window, which Platt sings flawlessly, and the beautiful act closer, You Will Be Found. When the lights came up at the end of act one, I felt myself overly satisfied, thinking this was excellent and certainly deserving of the award it has been rumored to receive later this year.
When Act Two began, though, things unfortunately started to fall apart. I felt as if the writers weren’t sure where to take the story/what else to really tell, and that the bulk of the plot had been divulged in the first act. There’s one thing you know has to happen in the second act- again, I can’t say without giving away the plot- but, that aside, there’s very little that occurs.
I also felt like the songs in the second act were far less memorable, and that a few of them dragged on way too long, even after getting their point across.
Finally, when the show reached its resolution and the lights went out, I felt like the message it was trying to send fell a bit flat.
Leaving the theater, I definitely am saddened to say I was underwhelmed by Dear Evan Hansen. While I did download the music, as I enjoyed the songs in the first act, even on a re-listen I was bored by what the second act offered.
We live in a world where, especially in theater, so many people are looking for the next “big thing.” After all of the hype Hamilton received, theatergoers are looking for the next musical that is worth the “hype.” While Dear Evan Hansen has its moments, this is not a musical that lived up to the expectations I had for it. While I won’t be surprised if it garners the Tony Award for Best Musical- both because of the “different” nature of the content and because there’s nothing else that’s been gaining as much attention this season- I can’t say with certainty that I feel it is deserving of that.