Theater Review: 'Dear Evan Hansen'

NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review of "Dear Evan Hansen," now on Broadway.

In "Dear Evan Hansen," Broadway is getting an infusion of young talent that rivals the very best of our seasoned veterans. Songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, just 31 years old, have already proven themselves phenoms. The book is by Steven Levenson, also in his early 30s. And with 23-year-old Ben Platt as the title character, a star of extraordinary gifts is born.

Evan Hansen is that staple of high schools across the land - the awkward, anxiety-ridden teenager who just wants to disappear. But in this story, a tragic event and a well-intentioned lie gives Evan a presence and a voice that changes his life and that of countless others in the most profound way. 

I'll say no more about the narrative except that what happens to Evan and those around him is as deeply universal and utterly compelling as anything you're likely to see on a professional stage.  

And it's told utilizing the language of social-media, which director Michael Grief has employed to stunning effect.

Pasek and Paul's score, so seamlessly woven into the story line, captures character nuances with the emotional eloquence of our finest dramatic plays, inducing tears and laughter in equal measure. 

And it is performed by a superlative cast, including four relative newcomers, Mike Faist, Kristolyn Lloyd, Will Roland and Laura Dreyfuss, and veterans Rachel Bay Jones, Jennifer Laura Thompson and Michael Park. Then, there’s Platt in a class all to himself, with the impeccable instincts of both a comedian and tragedian while singing his heart and guts out.  An incomparable performance that ranks among the finest in years. 

"Dear Evan Hansen" may be the story of a nerdy teenager, but it’s that rare show that connects and enlightens all of us.

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