To the big screen from the stage! Fans of musical theatre who have yet to see Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway—or who have seen it and can’t get enough of the personal, emotional coming-of-age story—are in luck. The Broadway blockbuster has been converted into a feature film, which is now playing in cinemas and stars Tony Award winner Ben Platt in the title role.
Dear Evan Hansen is a coming-of-age stage musical written by Steven Levenson and featuring music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. After a world debut at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. in July 2015 and an off-Broadway run at Second Stage Theatre from March to May 2016, the musical premiered on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre in December 2016.
The program was well-received when it first premiered. It was nominated for nine Tony Awards and won six, including Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Ben Platt, Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Rachel Bay Jones, Best Musical, and Best Score at the 71st Tony Awards.
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Let’s See what was in Act 1?
Evan Hansen is a socially anxious 17-year-old who has been bullied. Dr. Sherman, his therapist, suggests that he write letters to himself highlighting the positive aspects of each day. Heidi, his mother, proposes that he establish friends by asking others to sign the cast on his arm. Cynthia and Larry Murphy, as well as their daughters Zoe and Connor, make up the rich Murphy family. (“Anybody Have a Map?”) Cynthia and Heidi question how to communicate with their boys.
Evan meets Alana, a bright classmate, and Jared, his sole family friend, at school. Alana and Jared are both aware of his broken arm, yet none of them sign the cast. Evan then collides with Connor, who thinks Evan is making fun of him and pushes Evan to the ground. Evan develops a crush on Connor’s sister Zoe, who feels forced to apologise for her brother’s actions. Evan is unsure if this is his fate.
Evan sends himself a letter, wondering if anybody would notice if he wasn’t there. Because his crush on Zoe is the one thing that makes him happy, he puts all of his faith in her. He runs across Connor once more, who offers to autograph Evan’s cast. Connor discovers Evan’s letter on the printer and reads it, becoming enraged when he sees the mention of Zoe, believing Evan meant for him to see the letter in order to mock him. He dashes out, clutching the letter.
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Let’s See what was in Act 2?
On The Connor Project’s website, Evan and Alana offer a $50,000 fundraising concept to revive the abandoned apple orchard. Evan, on the other hand, gets concerned with his new connection with Zoe and his newfound Murphy family, to the point where he neglects his mother, Jared, and The Connor Project.
Heidi questions Evan about why he kept The Connor Project and his friendship with Connor a secret from her. He retorts furiously that he didn’t have time since she is never present. He rushes off to the Murphys, overcome with emotion, where Evan bonds with Larry and confides in him about his background.
Larry tosses him Connor’s old, unused baseball glove. Later, when Evan brings up Connor, Zoe tells him that she wants their relationship to be about the two of them, not about Connor.
Evan visits the Murphys just to find out that Heidi has been invited to dinner. She’s appalled to find that they plan to gift Evan Connor’s college fund. Heidi and Evan had a dispute, with Evan telling her that in her absence, he has found family. Alana, on the other hand, begins to notice discrepancies in the bogus emails.
Evan begs Jared for assistance in correcting the errors, but Jared refuses and threatens to expose Evan, who argues that he might reveal Jared’s position. In Evan’s mind, Heidi, Alana, and Jared collide, increasing his remorse and concern about his choices.
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The musical had its Broadway debut in previews on November 14, 2016, and it officially opened on December 4. After initially stating that performances would take place at the Belasco Theatre, organisers revealed in mid-September 2016 that the play will instead take place at the Music Box Theatre. Michael Park, who played Larry in the Arena Stage production, is reprising his role for the Broadway show (replacing John Dossett who went on to the musical War Paint). For the Broadway engagement, all additional cast members from the Second Stage show returned.
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The musical has earned critical acclaim, with Ben Platt’s main performance, the songs, and the book receiving special praise. The narrative has also facilitated and promoted open discussion on mental illness and teen suicide. Dear Evan Hansen won the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award in 2015.