Happy Saturday Everyone!
It feels like it’s been forever since I last checked in with you guys (even though it’s actually been only a week..), so I’m typing to you all today to bring you my experience with Dear Evan Hansen.
Needless to say, about a week ago I didn’t even know I would be seeing this musical in 2018. My mom surprised me with them as a Christmas present for my boyfriend and I, and to say the least, I couldn’t have been happier.
Of course, I’m a very loyal Hamilton fan; however, since this summer, I was really getting into Dear Evan Hansen. It’s funny because I remember one day walking past the theater in New York and thinking to myself, ‘What even is this play? It looks weird.’ and here we are a few months later.. totally obsessed.
I broke into the DEH world with ‘Waving Through a Window’ and there was no turning back. My Spotify ‘2017 Wrapped’ playlist even let me know that this was my most listened to song of the year. I’ve even had thoughts to choreograph to it, and even though I’m probably still not brave enough to make that a reality, it’s song that could do the world so much justice.
So anyways, I guess the not-so-subtle hints and endless soundtrack playing got the message to my mom. This was the next show I wanted to see.
Now, before getting into excruciating detail about the show and my thoughts and opinions on it, I want to just give a small little ‘non-spoiler-y’ reaction: It was fabulous. No, there isn’t an elaborate set or dazzling dance numbers, but it is a play that will make you feel. This is one unlike any other that I’ve seen, and I feel so fortunate. The cast really makes the show what it is. They are confident, funny, relatable, and just all-round professionals. And of course the message is so one of a kind and needed in society today. Despite all of the crap an individual is going to go through, you will be found. And that is beautiful. So if you ever have a chance to see the show, regardless of who is your Evan etc. it is so worth it and you will NOT regret it.
And now, if you are unfamiliar with what the show is about, I’m going to try to sum it up super quick: So basically, the main character of the play is Evan Hansen. He is a high school student that struggles with anxiety and other mental health disorders. One summer he breaks his arm and on the first day back to school encounters a stereotypically misunderstood (almost bully) Connor Murphy. After signing Evan’s cast, Connor finds a letter that Evan wrote himself (he writes these letters as little pep talks for his therapist). Within the letter, Evan confesses that he’s still struggling to find happiness, and there is also mention of Connor’s sister Zoe. Connor freaks when he reads this, storms off, and is MIA until Evan learns that Connor has committed suicide.
The rest of the play centers around Evan and how he got trapped in a lie that spun itself bigger and more intricate than he ever could have imagined, and along the way tries to discover the road to self acceptance.
Of course there is so much more but I feel like that is most of what you need to know to get into the play, and with that being said, I want to conclude the ‘non-spoiler-y’ part of this blog post and get into the set, actors, individual acts, and songs of the play!
Okay so the stage design and set is something that actually surprised me when going to see the play. I didn’t think I would like it, like, at all, but when watching the whole thing unfold, I actually thought it was kind of cool.
It is minimal to say the least, but the back ground really centers on the social media aspect of the play. I think it adds a really cool and modern element and surprisingly did not distract me from what was actually going on onstage.
I think it’s just enough.
And I love that there wasn’t a curtain so when you entered the theater, you immediately saw Evan’s bed.
Also, the theater is super small in comparison to others that I’ve been to. I think this would work in the consumer’s advantage as well as the actors. You really feel like you are apart of what is unfolding in front of you AND there probably isn’t a bad seat in the house. A win-win if you asked me!
Okay so I want to preface this with the fact that I was able to see this will almost the entire OBC. It doesn’t get much better than that. Although Ben Platt was no longer there, Michael Lee Brown played an absolutely amazing Evan.
The emotion he poured into the role was gut wrenching, funny at the right moments, and relatable. He carried Evan very very very well.
As for the rest of the cast? They were all absolutely amazing. They are very obviously confident at what they do, you can tell especially when they sing. And again, the emotion and authenticity emit is so strongly perceived by the audience.
Really, I feel they made the role their own and further even made the play what it is. And for that I am grateful and excited to see what becomes of these characters in the future when the veterans inevitably step down (:
1. Anybody Have a Map?
Okay, so the play starts with Evan on his bed and he kind of goes through a sort of internal monologue and I think this immediately starts the show off on the right foot. You immediately get the sense of Evan’s anxiety, but it’s done in a light-hearted way that has the audience giggling at his description of sweaty hands and awkward conversations with his crush.
His mom enters and you also immediately get a sense of her character as well. You can tell that she cares so much about Evan, but unfortunately runs a single family home and needs to make a lot of sacrifices just to keep a roof over their head and a meal on the table. I feel like this leaves a big gap in the Evan and her’s relationship, but despite all of this she still tries. And that is essentially the premise of the first song.
It’s all about parents who sometimes don’t have a handle on what to do in tough situations. Which is such a refreshing message. I think a lot of people are always under the assumption that parents are always in control or that another parent is better than you, but really, everyone is just guessing and doing their best. And sometimes that involves making decisions on the fly and just having to see how they pan out.
Either way, this was such an upbeat, but still real way to start off the show.
2. Waving Through a Window
This is such a classic. I almost don’t even want to talk about anything BUT how much I love this song. It was the song that got me into this play and the song I listened to most in 2017 (according to Spotify). But all of this aside, Evan is now at school on his first day. He has a few encounters with people from school (i.e. a shove from Connor, a short (and awkward) conversation with Zoe, a catch-up with Jared, and a listen (not talking) moment with Alana), but at the end of it all he’s really just realizing that there are people all around him but none of them really SEE him.
He feels like he’s always waving out to people but no one is ever returning the favor. Not only this but he’s so caught up in worrying about getting burnt by putting himself out there that this is almost self-inflicted. Of course, this isn’t all his fault, he’s held back by his anxiety but that does not make this any less heartbreaking.
Although this musical doesn’t have a lot of flashing dance routines, I think the little choreography incorporated into this song really does a lot for it. There are points when Evan is trying to sing to the people around but each time he gets in front of them, they immediately turn their backs. It’s a perfect depiction of how he truly feels, even if it might not be reality.
Regardless, the play moves on and Evan writes himself a letter as an assignment for his upcoming therapy session. The letter confesses that this year isn’t going to be a great one after all and that he can’t even rely on the girl he wishes would notice him (Connor’s sister, Zoe). The note is found by Connor, who after signing Evan’s cast, reads it and storms off in fury.
I feel like this part is so important as well. Here were two outcasts who could have very easily helped one another had they been able to put aside differences/emotions. They are both so troubled and held back by their mental illness and unfortunately it would take a successful suicide to make one of them realize that at the end of the day, you matter.
3. For Forever
A few days pass and there has been no sighting of Connor. Evan gets called into the principal’s (I think?) office where he is met with Connor’s parents. The mother is obviously distraught and the father seems numb to what has happened. Connor killed himself and with him they found the note that Evan had written himself.
So naturally they think Evan was his friend. At this point I feel so bad for Evan because he so clearly wants to do the right thing, which is tell the truth, and he DOES, but the mother pushes and doesn’t understand and because of Evan’s anxiety he stumbles into a lie.
Of course the lie starts out small at first, but he keeps talking himself into a hole. Although he tries to take advice from Jared (his family friend) by just nodding and not saying anything more, he winds up fabricating an entire story of a day that he and Connor shared together.
That is what this song is about.
The lie seems to put his family at ease. I think that they like being able to still have a piece of their son, and they want to try to understand him. I think that they look to Evan for answers because obviously they can’t ask the only person who could give them.
4. Sincerely, Me
Ugh, this is a bop. So basically, Evan tells the Murphy fam that he and Connor wouldn’t talk in school because Connor was low-key embarrassed by him but they would email. A total lie. So he recruits Jared to write up some fake emails as proof.
I love this song so much and I love that as Jared is writing the emails from ‘Connor’s’ perspective, Connor actually comes out and sings it.
That is one thing I loved about this play, is that although Connor did commit suicide, he was still very much a part of the entire show. It wasn’t that he just got killed off and never showed back up again, but that he got to kind of have little reprisals all throughout.
Either way, this is kind of a little break from all of the heavier stuff before and after that will go down. It’s fun and lightens the mood, and who doesn’t love to see three boys on stage dance around on stage to a catchy song?
I will say here though that you really got to see how confident Mike Faist (the guy who plays Connor) is as an actor. He demands attention when he is on the stage. And I really loved that. But anyways, onto the next?
I love, love, love this song even if just for the words alone. It is sung by Zoe, Connor’s sister, and is all about the fact that although her brother is gone, she can’t mourn him because her memories of him were that he was a monster and borderline abusive.
In this part, the father even has a hard time being in Connor’s room for more than a few minutes, and he confesses the same thing, that at this point in time he just cannot sing a requiem for him.
And because I think this is such a powerful one, I want to include my favorite lyrics:
‘Cause when the villains fall, the kingdoms never weep
No one lights a candle to remember
No, no one mourns at all
When they lay them down to sleep
So, don’t tell me that I didn’t have it right
Don’t tell me that it wasn’t black and white
After all you put me through
Don’t say it wasn’t true
That you were not the monster
That I knew
Ugh. So. Freaking. Good. Like I just remember actually hearing those lines for the first time and really just sitting there and thinking about it. I don’t know. It was just a powerful moment for me. And again, an important message. I’m sure others have felt like people didn’t deserve their sorrow and maybe felt like an outcast or maybe a bad person because of it, but I think that here they are trying to tell you that again you are not alone in these thoughts and that you ARE valid.
6. If I Could Tell Her
This is just another kind of light hearted moment again. Unfortunately though Evan is continuing to spin the web of lies.
He essentially is telling Zoe all of the things that he wishes he could say but protecting himself by saying that it was actually Connor who has said and thought them all.
And that’s pretty much that (:
In this number, Connor makes another appearance (yay). At this point, people are starting to forget about Connor. At first, there were people all over the internet and in school coming together, but after only a few weeks, it seems like it’s already dying down and getting swept under a rug.
Connor comes to remind Evan that no one deserves to disappear. And so Evan gets the idea to start a group where he dedicates his mission to the fact that no one deserves to wonder if they matter.
Because of this there is going to be a memorial assembly held in Connor’s remembrance. Once Connor’s family finds out, of course they expect Evan to make a speech (as he’s Connor’s ‘best friend’). Connor’s mother gives Evan a tie that was tailored just for Connor to wear for the day, and this SERIOUSLY breaks. my. heart.
She mentions to Evan that other mom’s told her that once Connor reached bat mitzvahs age, he would be getting invited to all kinds of parties. And so she went out and got a suit made for him but he was never invited to a single one and the suit went totally untouched.
I don’t know but that just really pulls at my heart strings. I feel like at this point you really know that this loneliness is something Connor felt for years, and that feeling is something I wish no one had to go through.
8. You Will Be Found
At this point Evan is now preparing himself to make his speech. He comes to the front of the stage with a few note cards and mechanically reads off of them (he’s nervous and public speaking is his literal worst nightmare) until his cards become out of order. He panics, drops them, and falls to the ground.
It think this part is super symbolic. In the beginning of the play he talks about how he broke his arm and how he just fell and laid on the ground waiting for someone to come get him, but nobody did.
I feel like at this point, he kind of takes a hold of his own destiny. In a way, Connor really did come and get him as he is the driving force in him getting back up again and speaking from the heart about being found, but ultimately it is Evan who is finding himself.
I love that again the message here is that even in your darkest moments, you are going to be found by someone, somehow.
And the saddest part of it all is that in this number, Connor’s dad finally broke down. I remember watching it all play out on the stage and suddenly honing in on Mr. Murphy doubled over in tears. It was really powerful. And again, can I say relatable? I’m sure as a father, coping with this is so difficult, and even just understanding first of all where his son was coming from put up a wall that at this point was no longer strong enough.
Also, to kind of back track this was another really powerful moment of the play when you could have heard a pin drop. When Evan fell on stage and was shaking, struggling to find the confidence to do what he needed to do, the audience was so captivated and silent that it was one of my favorite things I’ve ever experienced in a play. It’s also a true testament to how excellent the acting was. Really, just amazing.
I don’t know. Again, just so so so good. It’s a beautiful way to end the first act (:
1. To Break In a Glove
This isn’t always my favorite song to listen to but I think it was kind of an important one to start off the second act with.
In it you can really see that there has been a development in the relationship between Evan and the Murphy family, especially here with Connor’s dad.
Mr. Murphy teaches Evan just how to break in a baseball glove and he has an emphasis on although it might not be the easiest way to do it, it is going to end up with the most satisfying, quality, and long-lasting result.
To be more specific, he says things like ‘You do the hard thing, ’cause that’s the RIGHT thing’ and obviously you can’t help but see the parallels here between what is literally happening on stage and what had happened with Connor.
I can’t speak for people who have had suicidal thoughts before, but I do appreciate the message of although it might seem like some of the toughest moments, you still have to persevere because at the end of the day THAT is the best choice.
I also liked that in this number you get to see a little bit more into Evan’s history. He confesses that his dad actually doesn’t really care much about him and that at the end of the day, he wasn’t taught things by him, and you can tell in these moments that Evan definitely feels like he has been left out of something as he has grown up. Just another heartbreaking moment.
2. Only Us
During this song, Zoe is actually brought to Evan’s house for the first time. There is a brief moment where Zoe mentions needing to talk to Evan and he has a mini freak out because he thinks she’s going to break up with him (it’s actually kind of adorable and funny the way he handles it). But then she really just wants to tell him that she’s done talking about her brother 24/7, and that she really does like Evan for him.
I think this is a really sweet moment for Evan. He realizes finally that maybe he is worthy of being liked by a girl, even better, the girl he’s had a major crush on for like forever. And I love that.
3. Good For You
So now, Evan’s mom actually meets the Murphy’s. They surprise both Evan and his mom by offering to pay for Evan’s college tuition with money they had put aside for Connor.
Of course, Evan’s mom doesn’t take this well. Under first impression, she thinks that Evan has been leading these people to think that they are poor and that she is incapable of providing for him. Although untrue, it’s valid. And she’s really furious.
I think at this point she’s completely taken off guard because she is just now finding out that Evan has been spending most of his free time with the Murphy family and that feels like a complete stab in the back. Almost as if she isn’t good enough.
And this seg ways right into the song. It’s about how ever since this lie has begun and since spun out of control, Evan has changed, and not necessarily for the better.
He is giving attitude to his mom, blowing off his friends, and disregarding responsibilities all to have a dream relationship with Zoe and the Murphy’s. The mom is really asking is the grass really greener on the other side? And if it is, well I hope it’s finally good enough for you.
4. Words Fail
And finally, the waves come crashing down. There starts to become more and more holes in Evan’s lie and people around him are noticing. His stories don’t match up and he’s grasping at anything to try and keep this up.
Until finally he can’t anymore and he comes clean to the Murphy’s.
I both love and hate this part. I love the song and think it is absolutely so powerful and such a song for the climax of the play; however, I hate the Murphy’s reactions.
Of course they are upset and they should be, but the way that it seems they really drop Evan in almost 0.00001 second flat sucks. Although he weaved a lie, it all started because of the Murphy’s pressure, and ultimately it made their family whole again. Because of him, they are a memorial for Connor and have inspired others around the world with Evan’s message. And while they might not be inviting Evan to have dinner with them every night, the immediate disconnect seemed too abrupt and left me really feeling bad for Evan.
I wish I had more to say about this but I don’t.
5. So Big / So Small
At this point, Evan returns back to his mom for a majorly heartbreaking last song.
If you’ve ever been in a single parent family, I’m sure just listening to this will pull at your heart strings even just a little bit.
At the end of the day, his mother is always there for him, just like how it started in the very beginning. Although she works a demanding job, and takes classes on the side, she never intends on leaving Evan like his dad did so many years ago.
She acknowledges that no matter how hard she tries, there are still going to be moments that she fails, and that those moments have happened before and will happen again, but that no matter what, she is not going anywhere.
The world sometimes feels so big in the moment, but maybe a day, a week, or even a year later what once felt so big, now feels so small. And that is so important to remember. Especially when I can vouch for things feeling like the biggest deal at the time, but now looking back I got over it and it is almost nothing.
And finally, we come to the finale. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. Mostly because of how I am when I watch movies or read books, but anyways, I always like the love interests to end up together happily ever after. Well that doesn’t explicitly happen here.
A year after all of this went down, Evan meets back up with Zoe in the orchard rebuilt in Connor’s memory. He recounts to her how he is growing as a person, and that although he still struggles, he is actively trying to get better, and Zoe reminds him that what happened actually helped her family.
And finally, it feels like Evan has managed to step into the sun. He concludes with the thought that today is going to be a good day because finally, he is him, not a fabricated version, and being yourself is what is really enough.
And that’s the end. The fabulous cast comes out and takes their bows and boy let me tell you that the audience is on their feet as soon as they possibly can.
This play is filled with such wonderful and important messages and again (for the millionth time) it is just so gosh darn relatable.
I know that tickets aren’t the most convenient to get and that they aren’t cheap but if you have the chance to go see this musical, I really would encourage it. And maybe bring a box of tissues because you’ll most likely cry, at the very least, once.
I’m going to leave you all now with some pictures that I took from that day. We met Michael Lee Brown at the stage door after the show and he was very sweet and I, again, just feel so fortunate to have had this day and experience. It was definitely the best way I could have imagined to kick off 2018 (:
Have any of you seen Dear Evan Hansen? Are you planning to? And if you have, what are your thoughts and opinions? Or do you think there are other musicals you would like to see first (Hamilton, duh!)? Let me know in the comments!
I hope you all enjoyed this VERY lengthy (but still probably not thorough enough) review of Dear Evan Hansen, but..
Until next time,