Before moving away from the East Coast, I never had a chance to see Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway. Applauded and raved about by audiences everywhere, I was always disappointed that I never had the opportunity to see it live on the stage. I did watch the movie version of it and I was kind of torn on the story. I kind of liked it, but, of course, it is a really heart-wrenching story, so I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it. When I heard the National Tour was part of the 2022-2023 Broadway at the Eccles season, I knew it was one that I really wanted to see performed live and then decide exactly how I felt about it.
Last night, Dear Evan Hansen premiered at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City and I was thrilled to be invited to come and see it. I went into the show with mixed feelings but can confidently tell you that seeing it live made all the difference in the world.
The Tony® and Grammy® Award-Winning Best Musical. A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Dear Evan Hansen is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it.
The moment the show began, I was hooked. I was drawn into the world of Evan Hansen. He was very endearing and vulnerable. Hearing about his insecurities and anxiety instantly made you want to protect him and root for him. The casting of Anthony Norman as Evan Hansen was seamless and his vocals were a delight. I loved as the show goes on his confidence was reflected in the power in his voice. He did an incredible job.
As an audience, we are introduced to a variety of characters as Evan begins a new school year. Evan’s mom, Heidi, a hard working single mom who anxiously wants the best for her son, although it’s a difficult task to juggle all that she does. Jared Kleinman, Evan’s family friend, Zoe Murphy, Evan’s crush, Alana Beck, Evan’s over-achieving classmate, Connor Murphy, a dark, tormented classmate and brother of Zoe, and Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, Connor and Zoe’s well-to-do parents, that have a tumultuous relationship with their children.
Evan embarks on the first day of school with a broken arm and an assignment from his therapist to write himself letters to act as a pep talk to face each day. We learn quickly that Evan doesn’t have any friends and feels very alone. He longs to be able to talk to Zoe, but lacks the confidence to do so. He is even bullied by Connor, who is himself considered a freak and outcast. After the end of a rough first day, Evan writes himself a letter that gets into Connor’s hands and begins a series of unfortunate events.
Connor Murphy takes his own life and we find out that he had Evan’s letter in his possession when he was found, leading everyone to believe it was a suicide note and that he was writing to his “best friend” Evan Hansen. Evan tries to deny this, but finds that he must create a charade to help Connor’s family cope with the tragedy. As he does this, he finds himself in a fabricated life he’s actually always wanted.
The story is, indeed, heart-breaking. Yet, there are heart-warming components to it. There are much needed points of levity in the story, as well, which is well-placed to ease the heaviness of such a sad scenario, as is evident in the song “Sincerely, Me“. I was very impressed, especially, with the strong vocals of Connor Murphy, portrayed by August Emerson and loved whenever we heard him sing.
I was also entranced by the beautiful voice of Zoe Murphy, sung by actress Alaina Anderson. “Requiem” was absolutely heart wrenching and one of my favorite performances of the evening.
Another favorite moment of the show was Evan and the rest of the company singing “You Will Be Found.” You would be hard pressed to find a dry eye in the audience.
Dear Evan Hansen is a show everyone should see. It is bittersweet and endearing and tugs at the heartstrings, but it is a story worth hearing and experiencing. I am so glad I got to see this done on the stage, as I enjoyed it so much more than the movie. The show was so well-done, I would go see it again in a heartbeat. Don’t miss your chance to see the show for yourself while it is in Salt Lake City. It is playing now through, Sunday, March 5th. To learn more about the show and purchase tickets for yourself, visit Broadway at the Eccles online.
Dear Evan Hansen is just one of the many shows in the 2022-2023 season, with several more shows still to come, such as Hairspray, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Les Miserables, and Beetlejuice. We have thoroughly enjoyed the remarkable entertainment that has been presented at Broadway at the Eccles this year and can’t wait to see the other shows, as well.