Monday, December 2, 2019

Sincerely, Me (Dear Evan Hansen July 2018)

Tee: Dear Evan Hansen//Jeans: J Crew Factory//Shoes: Adidas

Last summer was shows galore for me. I have to say that even I was even starting to get a little overwhelmed by all the shows I've seen recently, but that's what's so great about living in New York City. You get to see shows whenever you feel like it and when one of my friends got us tickets to the Actors Fund Special Performance of Dear Evan Hansen, I jumped at the opportunity.
Dear Evan Hansen is the winner of the 2017 Tony Award Best Musical and I've been trying to win the lottery for it since I moved up to NYC. While it's not as hard to get tickets as it is for Hamilton, tickets are tough to get. I happened to mention to my friend that I was wanting to eventually see the show, and she mentioned that there was an Actors Fund performance the next evening and she could try to get tickets for us.

Actors Fund is an organization that helps out those in the arts field when any emergency comes up, such as affordable housing, health care, emergency financials and others. They do multiple events throughout the year including special performances with Broadway shows. For some performances, such as Dear Evan Hansen, the cast and crew offer to have an extra performance on a Sunday Night where all the money from ticket sales goes towards Actors Fund. You can learn more about Actors Fund on their website.

Dear Evan Hansen is a pop musical that follows Evan Hansen as he struggles with his social anxiety. As an assignment by his therapist, he is supposed to write a letter to himself to encourage him that each day is going to be a great day. His mom tries to encourage and help him out by telling him he should get fellow students to sign his cast. As he's writing one of his letters at school, one of the students, Connor finds the letter and keeps it. The next day, we find out that Connor committed suicide and the only thing on him is the letter that Evan wrote, prompting his parents to believe that Connor and Evan are friends. The main focus of the show is to show the powerful effect that social media has especially on the current generation of school students.

The technology used in this production is incredible and is worth a review on itself. For the set, they essentially project different online platforms and text messages on the screen as they are happening. The music is written by duo Pasek and Paul, who also wrote the music for La La Land and The Greatest Showman. Some of my favorite songs from this show are "Waving Through a Window", "You Will Be Found", "Requium" and "Sincerely, Me".

The role of Evan Hansen is a monster of a role and is one of the hardest roles currently on Broadway. The actor is on the stage for 90% of the show and has numerous monologues throughout the show. As someone who is suffering from social anxiety, Evan tends to start to ramble when trying to explain anything to anyone. I feel that I can relate to Evan on these tendencies because there are times that I feel like I can just talk on and on to someone before trying to get my point across.

When I saw the show, Taylor Trensch was performing the role of Evan Hansen. He has since left the show to star in the Tony Award nominated play To Kill a Mockingbird. Because this was a special performance, the cast and crew did an unusual two show Sunday. Now normally, the alternate for Evan Hansen performs one of the two shows, as is usual for shows where the leads have a lot of stage time and a hard score to sing, but since this was a special performance, Taylor did both shows that day and honestly you couldn't hear anything in his voice that would indicate that his voice could be getting tired or that it was the last show of the week before their day off. The energy radiating off of his character was amazing and he made the character of Evan Hansen relatable to anyone in the audience watching. While I don't suffer from social anxiety, I could relate to Evan on the fact that I over think everything and care way too much about what other people think about anything I say or do.

Laura Dreyfuss performed the role of Zoe Murphy, sister of Connor Murphy and not only was this a special benefit performance but it was also her final performance. Laura is one of the original cast members and so to be there for her final show was special to witness. She held composure well for a majority of the show and only started to show true emotion during "Requium". You could feel the love of the whole cast around her during the performance, especially with the cast playing the Murphy family and they even made a speech for her at the end of the show. One of the great things about seeing an original cast member is seeing the foundation they create around the character that will be carried on from performer to performer and what I loved about her character is the confusion she felt about how she was supposed to feel about the death of her brother and the guilt she felt over not being overly emotional about his death.

Rachel Bay Jones plays Evan's mom, Heidi and earned a Tony Award for her performance in this role. She portrayed the single mom trying to figure out how to connect with her son and help him with his struggles with his anxiety and in just being a teenager.

Jennifer Laura Thompson and Michael Park played Connor and Zoe's parents. What I love about both of these roles is you can see how each parent handles the situation and grief differently. Cynthia Murphy just wants answers about why her son did what he did while Larry Murphy was trying to hold it together until he finally reached his breaking point.

Rounding out the cast is Alex Boniello as Connor who is still performing the role, Pheonix Best as Alana and Sky Lakota-Lynch as Jared. Even though they play more supporting roles, whenever their characters were on the stage, they claimed the presence of the storyline and helped keep the story moving at a quick speed.

Overall the show was incredible. A must see for anyone who wants to see a show. I would definitely be wary about any young children seeing the show because it does handle dark subjects, but the message it carries is strong. The current cast on Broadway right now includes Andrew Barth Feldman, 2018 Jimmy Awards male winner, and Tony Nominee, Christiane Noll.

Dear Evan Hansen is currently performing at the Music Box Theatre and on National Tour. A London production of the show also recently started performances.

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