REVIEW: DEAR EVAN HANSEN (Noel Coward Theatre) ★★★★

During a snowy blizzard in 2017, I went to see Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, with the original cast including Ben Platt and it was so emotional and wonderful that I couldn’t wait for it to come to the West End. And now, finally it is here at the Noel Coward Theatre.

Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of a socially awkward schoolboy, Evan, whose therapist tells him to write motivational letters to himself starting ‘Dear Evan Hansen…’. But when the school bully Connor Murphy takes one of these letters from him and then commits suicide, his family find the letter in his pocket and assume the two had been close friends. Evan, unsure what to do and finally feeling accepted into a family, goes along with the story and starts a social media campaign in Connor’s honour which goes viral and by that time there is little more he can do than keep up the pretence. It is an emotional story of growing up, grief, loneliness and the longing for acceptance.

Sam Tutty plays Evan Hansen, however on the day I went to see the show, it was alternate Evan, Marcus Harman’s first performance which was a pleasant surprise and he did a good job. Alternate’s, understudies and swings often don’t get enough praise in this industry and so it is always nice to catch them doing their thing on stage.

The cast also includes Lucy Anderson as Zoe Murphy, Doug Colling as Connor Murphy, Rebecca McKinnis as Heidi Hansen, Lauren Ward as Cynthia Murphy, Rupert Young as Larry Murphy, Jack Loxton as Jared Kleinman who all add their own spin on the roles. The stand out performance for me was Nicole Raquel Dennis as Alana Beck.

The set is clean and simple, cleverly using video projection and screens to give a real social media feeling to the production.

Dear Evan Hansen will never be the same as the original Broadway production, for which the role of Evan was essentially created for Ben Platt. I left the London theatre not feeling particularly emotional compared to how I felt the first time I saw the show on Broadway but the bar was set pretty high for my expectations. Setting aside the Broadway production, this is a great musical with brilliant songs and a story that needs to be told and seen so get your tickets now!

Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Matthew Murphy

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