Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever). Follow @bffs613 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Today’s going to be a good day. And here’s why–Dear Evan Hansen has landed at the National Arts Centre. The Tony Award-winning Best Musical all starts with a misconstrued letter that was not meant to be seen, a series of lies that continue to snowball and the power of social media to make you feel more alone or bring you together. With music and lyrics by Grammy, Tony and Academy Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (The Greatest Showman, La La Land, Dogfight) and an original cast including Broadway powerhouse Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen brought a new type of musical to Broadway and even had a film adaptation released in 2021.
Those who have been following the show since its inception will love what the touring production has brought to the stage. This show, which deals with mental health, acceptance, and connection, is a relatable portrayal for audiences on stage. Audiences will see themselves and people they know represented on stage–which isn’t something that happens very often in how mental health is represented and depicted. Evan Hansen is an inherently flawed character who faces relatable challenges day-to-day, but it doesn’t erase some of the poor decisions he makes in the aftermath of what starts as a little white lie and a good intention. As we move through the story, we see how everyone is facing their own struggles, how universal the desire for connection is, and what people will do to feel that connection–real or not.
In our recent interview with some of the Dear Evan Hansen cast members, we heard more about how social media is an additional character in the show. The show uses social media to move the plot and add different depths to characters and how they interact with each other online or in real life (or IRL, as the kids would say). The lighting and use of screens make the social media components easy to follow and help bring the audience deeper into the story to understand how the outside world is affecting what we’re seeing.
With a wealth of popular songs that audiences have fallen in love with, we have to say that as much as you can play the cast recording on repeat, there is nothing quite like seeing songs like You Will Be Found and Sincerely, Me live on stage–and this cast delivered. You Will Be Found is strong, powerful and emotional. The lighting, staging, use of screens and how the entire cast comes together on vocals will send chills through your body. Sincerely, Me is comedic, fast-paced, and upbeat, and takes letter-writing to a new level. We get to see two realities as they entwine with each other and bask in the comedic timing as vocals bounce seamlessly between Evan Hansen (Anthony Norman), Connor Murphy (Ian Coursey), and Jared Kleinman (Pablo David Laucerica).
Seeing a wide range of characters that aren’t inherently good or bad, but are complex and realistic people who continue to develop and grow, is what has helped audiences build such a strong connection to this show. Whether or not you agree with the things Evan Hansen has said or done, by the end of two and a half hours you see him as a whole person with kindness, quirks, and flaws, someone who has been able to create a space for others that he has always wanted for himself.
At its core, Dear Evan Hansen is a story about the power of connection and how being yourself is enough. So make sure to pack your tissues because this show is an emotional roller coaster ride and will have you holding on tight from beginning to end.
Dear Evan Hansen takes place from August 9 to 14 at the National Arts Centre. Evening performances are at 8pm, except Sunday at 7:30pm. Matinees are on Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 1:30pm. Tickets start at $65 and the show runs two and a half hours with an intermission. A digital lottery for a limited number of $25 tickets will also be available for every show.