Dear Evan Hansen, opening Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, at the Eccles Theater, in Salt Lake City, brings to the stage—in text and tone — the crushing isolation of a nerdy teenager, trapped in his own awkward snare. Evan Hansen is that socially inept, tic-filled kid whose biggest struggle is to face the throngs of high schoolers as he plods and weaves through each day.
But even as Evan falters and stumbles he learns the benefit of telling people what they want and need to hear. Once the story’s out, untrue though it is, the falsehoods collapse around him.
Winner of six Tony awards, Dear Evan Hansen has won numerous other awards, including the Drama League Award for Outstanding Musical Production and for the off-Broadway production, two Obie Awards, a Drama Desk Award and two Outer Critics Circle Awards and two Helen Hayes Awards.
Michael Greif, veteran director of luminous productions such as “Rent,” guides the inspiring book by Steven Levenson and haunting, score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul to its ultimate nuanced conclusion.
Underneath the thick layers of insecurity, Evan yearns desperately for affection, affection that ultimately spells trouble for its seeker.
This is when Evan’s fateful encounter with his nemesis and salvation, Connor Murphy, finds Evan in the school’s computer room printing one of the daily “atta-boy” letters to himself that his therapist has advised him to write, thus the title “Dear Evan Hansen…” The letter, seized by Connor, is grist for his own mean mill. When Connor notices the blank white cast on Evan’s arm, he scrawls his name in bold letters across it and laughs a mocking, taunting laugh.
That evening Connor Murphy, a drug-addled, alienated schoolmate, commits suicide.
As news of Connor’s suicide and his so-called friendship with Evan spreads across the school, the class smart aleck Alana starts a fund in Connor’s name. Pulled into the Connor Project’s school assembly, Evan is persuaded to give a speech. When the speech hits the social media platforms it becomes a sensation, and lackluster Evan becomes a social media phenom garnering thousands upon thousands of “likes.”
And here we have the nub of the story. Dear Evan Hansen shows how social media have become both a way of advocating for good and inspiring collective participation, but also suggests that viral movements can spiral out of control, doing more damage than good.
Seduced by the long-awaited attention, yet silenced by the duplicity of his message Evan personifies the query of what happens when you do the wrong things for the right reasons.
The story and the themes it explore are both current and timeless. And it does so through the inspiring and memorable score. “You Will Be Found “ allows Evan to express what it feels like to be an anxious person desperate to connect, yet filled with hope.
“Have you ever felt like nobody was there? / Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere? / When you’re broken on the ground / You will be found / So let the sun come streaming in / ‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again / You will be found ….
Dear Evan Hansen is a momentous production we’re looking forward to seeing the touring cast put it through it’s paces. And we’ll be sure to bring a hanky.
THE TOURING CAST: Anthony Norman as Evan Hansen; Alaina Anderson as Zoe Murphy; Coleen Sexton as Heidi Hansen; Lili Thomas as Cynthia Murphy; August Emerson as Connor Murphy; John Hemphill as Larry Murphy; Pablo David Laucerica as Jared Kleinman; Micaela Lamas as Alana Beck.
- What: Dear Evan Hansen
- When: Feb. 28 through March 5, 2023
- Where: George S. And Dolores Dore Eccles Theater
- How to go: Tickets and more info are available at saltlakecountyarts.org
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