I arrived in New York on Saturday evening with one goal in mind. To somehow get tickets to the sold out (until July) new musical Dear Evan Hansen, that is sending the world in to meltdown since it’s Original Cast Recording was released last month.
There were only two options for this. Enter the online lottery to win tickets, or queue outside in the snow early in the morning for Standing Room Only (SRO) tickets. I opted to stay in bed and just chance the online lottery but the dear Nathan Matthews and Blackpool Pete (who I am out here with) were troopers and queued outside the box office from 5am (in the snow). I didn’t win the lottery but after seven hours of standing in line, Nathan and Pete managed to get us all $40 tickets for the matinee in the standing area at the back of the Stalls (or Orchestra as they say here!)
I could not have been more excited that it was finally going to happen and I was going to get to see the original cast perform this sold out show, which I have been wearing out the CD by playing repeatedly since its release.
After getting a $24 glass of wine (£20) I took my seat (well, by seat I mean stand at the back) waiting for the show to begin. Oh, and yes, that isn’t a typo. A glass of wine on broadway is £20! Makes you suddenly think that paying £10 in London isn’t so bad after all!
Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of a boy (Evan Hansen) who struggles with anxiety and is told by his therapist to write positive letters of encouragement to himself every day, saying why today will be a good day. When the school freak, Connor, picks the letter up off of the printer, he teases Evan about it and then walks off with it. The next day it transpires the bully Connor, committed suicide and his parents mistaken Evans letter as a suicide note, addressed to Evan.
Unable to tell the dead boy’s parents the truth about who really wrote the letter, Evan pretends they were best friends and tells them all the great things that they did together to help ease the parents pain. But how long can he keep up this lie? And when the parents ask to see more of the letters they exchanged, Evan has to write a back story to their friendship which when picked apart by school girl Alana proves to have some holes in it.
Dear Evan Hansen is a story of community coming together to support a cause and how we shouldn’t wait until someone is dead before we realise we never really got a chance to get to know them.
The music by Pasek and Paul is gloriously beautiful, uplifting and heart wrenching, creating the most wonderful musical soundtrack. The CD is cleverly recorded to not give away too much of the story of how the show turns out, whilst being incredibly enjoyable to listen to as its own entity.
The set design is modern and uses moving screens and video projection brilliantly and really is a feast for the eyes to watch. Ben Platt is incredible as Evan Hansen. His voice is incredible and the songs are a vocal rollercoaster which he endures whilst also acting the emotionally distressed teenager to perfection. Mike Faist plays dead boy Connor Murphy incredibly well and is vocally as strong as Ben Platt. Jared Kleinman plays the third of the boys and geeky cousin to Evan Hansen, Will Roland. He really helps bring the comedic element to the show. The stand out moment of act one is when these three boys come together for the song ‘Sincerely Me’ which is fantastically fun to watch. Kristolyn Lloyd is funny as the self obsessed school girl who pretends to have known the dead boy to gain popularity. Rachel Bay Jones plays Evans mum Heidi well and brings a tear to the eye in her emotional songs towards the end of the show.
Dear Evan Hansen was the first show of my New York trip but I imagine it will still be my favourite show I saw on Broadway when I return to London.
I left the show beaming, incredibly grateful that I got to see this show. I just hope it isn’t too long before it crosses over the pond to London so I can see it again and again!