*Dear Evan Hansen,* 1/16/18
Richard and I saw *Dear Evan Hansen* on Broadway on 1/16/18. It won the Tony for Best Musical last year, and Tonys for book writer Steven Levenson, songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and for Ben Platt who originated the role or Evan Hansen and for Rachel Bay Jones who originated (and is still playing) the role of Evan's mother. We've had this on our radar for a while, we were excited to see it.
I don't want to say too much about the story, I don't want to give any spoilers. Let me vaguely summarize that it's the story of a high school student, Evan Hansen, who gets caught in a lie and spends the rest of the show first getting deeper into the lie and then trying to find a way out of it. It was a treat to see a Broadway musical with a completely original story, not based on a movie, book, or jukebox collection.
But while the story was original and complex, it wasn't enough. Richard hit the bullseye when he described it as "an after school special." The bigger problem, for us, was the music. Every song sounded a lot like the song before it, all of the songs before it. That got flat and tiresome very soon. A couple of songs (Evan's first song and the song that ended the first act) broke through that mold by having a deeper connection to the drama - - the first act finale was also aided by a thrilling set and lighting change that opened up the show in a meaningful way. But the other songs didn't go that extra mile.
It was also hard for me, as a singer, to hear singers straining so much of the time. The songs all have a broad range and often go very high in the singer's range, especially for the actor playing Evan. I know that actors can fake that kind of effort, to a degree, but some of the strain I heard sounded genuine. Noah Galvin was playing Evan the night we saw it (Platt left the show in November), and he gave a deeply committed and affecting performance, but I'd like to hear what a voice teacher or voice doctor would have to say. Yes, he's only 23 and his voice is very flexible and resilient, but is he doing long-term damage to his voice? Even if there are only five moments in the show where he's truly straining his voice, that's forty moments a week.
Here's Noah Galvin and other members of the cast doing that wonderful first act closer, "You Will Be Found," at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.