I Have Been Processing My Thoughts on Dear Evan Hansen Since 2017

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Dear Evan Hansen is closing on Broadway and it's got me really starting to formulate my thoughts on this show fully in a really long time. I was one of the fortunate who got to see the original cast (Mike Faist!). I say fortunate just because to be able to get tickets to a blockbuster musical during the original cast's, especially with someone giving a performance like Ben Platt, is fortunate. Honestly, a lot of his problems of being wrong when it came time to the movie was that awful hair. Not to knock the understudies or new casts, because some of the performers we discover or come in for a run are phenomenal, and in this show specifically I would've loved to witness Jordan Fisher perform "Waving Through a Window". But to be able to get a ticket to the original run of a production is always a special thing. So I'm glad I was able to see it while it was a hard ticket to get. All that being said, now onto my issues with it. 

It's mainly the score. The book of the show understands that what Evan is doing is shitty, but the songs don't. The majority of them are pop songs that if you took them out and maybe changed a line or two, they wouldn't sound that out of place on the radio. Not all songs in a musical need to drive the plot, but there's not even great character songs that dive into Evan's motivations for what he's doing, or anything like that for the other characters once they find out about the lie. 

The only song that digs into the irony and darkness and dark comedy needed for the story they are trying to tell is "Sincerely, Me". First off, it's a very good comedy song. In a show that's full of darkness, you need a comedy song to lighten the load on the audience. There could have been more places in the score for that dark humor and irony, instead of just the sentimental ballads and "inspiring" songs like "For Forever" or "You Will Be Found". 

There also needed to be more reaction to Evan's betrayal of the Murphy family. Spend a bit more time in that betrayal with them so the audience knows how shitty of a thing Evan had done, because the show immediately goes into his mom Heidi realizing it was his note that started this cascading of events, and the focus is on him. And that's not to immediately villainize and discount all of his pain that led him to this deception, but there should still be some consequence for it. 

What I will say it that it was an original idea that became a blockbuster smash, in an era when art across all mediums is becoming more and more reliant on existing pop culture IP. I hope that this show’s blockbuster success leads to more risks being taken original work, and that new stories get to be told, especially shows with challenging material that might not hold up.

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