By Abby Jaeger
After Ben Platt takes the final bow in one of Broadway’s newest shows, recipient of the 2017 Tony Award for Best Musical, Dear Evan Hansen, all in the crowd are standing as a roaring applause echoes off the Music Box Theatre walls. Dear Evan Hansen, in my opinion, is the most relatable play on Broadway, as Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) is a high school student just trying to fit in; this is something that I struggle with, that teenagers my age struggle with, and something that adults most likely struggled with sometime in their own high school days.
This show speaks to everyone in the audience with its beautifully composed songs, such as, “Waving Through a Window,” a song about feeling invisible, and “You Will Be Found,” a song discussing how we can rely on others to help us through hardships.
The show opens up with Evan’s anxiety over speaking to the delivery man to pick up dinner. His single, hard-working mother, Heidi Hansen (Rachel Bay Jones), is concerned and confused by this. Evan later explains that he fears speaking to a complete stranger when picking up the food, and the awkward silence that follows when they collect your money, count it, and then give you change.
Scary, right? Doesn’t seem like it, but little things like these get Evan worried. Evan also feels anxious when talking to his crush, Zoe (Laura Dreyfuss); he even plans a conversation that he could say to her, if he ever gets the courage to speak to her, but always worries about his palms being too sweaty.
In response to this constant anxiety, Evan’s mother sends him to a therapist, who recommends that he writes pep-talk letters to himself, “Dear Evan Hansen, today is going to be a good day, and here’s why…”
One day, Evan runs into Connor Murphy (Mike Faist), otherwise known as the depressed, goth kid, and gets bumped to the ground. After
feeling some remorse for his actions, Connor signs Evan’s blank cast, with his name in big capital letters. Connor later sees one of the pep talks Evan has written himself, freaks out, and takes the letter.
The very next day, Connor commits an unanticipated suicide. Connor’s sister, Zoe, the girl whom Evan has a crush on, notices Evan’s self addressed pep talk letter, and figures that Connor addressed it to Evan. Additionally, Connor’s large signature on Evan’s cast gives the Murphy family reason to suspect that he and Evan were close friends. This surprises everyone in the family, as they all thought that Connor was a loner.
At this point, Evan is in a bit of a dilemma. Should he continue on with this lie, for the sake of the Murphy family and to get closer with Zoe? Or, should he explain the truth to them? Evan decides to continue with the lie, and creates elaborate stories about their friendship. The whole ploy seems to bring the Murphy’s joy and bring Zoe closer to Evan.
Evan later sets up a fund with another student called “The Connor Project” where students can donate money to rebuild the same apple orchard that Evan says he and Connor went to. With this project, Evan gains a popularity and Zoe finally becomes his girlfriend.
With all of this success comes a downfall. Evan’s mother finds out about his shenanigans and gets angry. The Murphy’s also discover Evan’s lies, and everyone, especially Zoe, is enraged. Now, more than ever, Evan feels lost.
However, with all of this, Evan gains more confidence as an individual. He had a relationship with his crush, set up a memorial fund, and gained popularity at school. Evan is both broken inside and resilient at the same time. But was it really worth it?
Dear Evan Hansen embodies the full teenage experience— the first day of high school, first loves, social media and much more.
This show seems to teach everyone, old and young, about the most common high school fear—fitting in. Everyone is different; we all have awkward traits and weird quirks. Many people don’t accept their personalities, out of fear of standing out or not being accepted.
The viewer can also relate to the hardship of developing self-confidence. It is extremely difficult to be confident in your flaws when society dictates to hide them. Your flaws shape you into who you are, and if everyone shared the same traits in order to fit in, life would be pretty boring.
Dear Evan Hansen was a wonderful show, and I recommend it to all who are looking to be found.