Evan Hansen has made it to Broadway!
The new musical about a high school senior grappling with a dark secret and craving acceptance made its Main Stem debut on Sunday night. The show marks a star-is-born moment for actor Ben Platt, who plays the title character
"I believe in the show and I always thought this was a story that needed to be told on Broadway and we would get there," said Platt. "But I never could have foretold it would be so well received and people would be this affected by it.
"Dear Evan Hansen" makes its way to Broadway after a world premiere at The Arena Stage in Washington DC in 2015 and later a sold out run at off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre this past spring.
The show features a book by Steven Levenson and a score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Tony nominees for "A Christmas Story."
"We have to say Frank, you were the very first person from the New York theatre community to see this show in Washington DC," said Pasek. "And we were upset because we thought who was spying on us?"
"We were in early previews," said Paul.
"And I remember turning to you and you were enthusiastic about it—and we thought—wow this might be something," said Pasek.
The show is under the direction of Michael Greif of "Rent" and "Next to Normal" fame. Greif shared with me on opening night that the young writers were inspired by both of his celebrated musicals while creating "Dear Evan Hansen".
"They made it very clear they owe real debts to Jonathan Larson and Tom Kitt, and that informed the way we worked together," said Greif. "They told me what those pieces meant to them and that let me in an extraordinary way."
The "Evan Hansen" company features a solid ensemble of eight performers, including Broadway veterans Jennifer Laura Thompson, Rachel Bay Jones, and Michael Park, who all were involved with the musical from the very beginning.
"I had never been a part of something that was so perfect... I knew we were onto something special," said Park.
"It was one of those things, where those words were tumbling out of us and we realized what a beautiful piece this was," said Jones.
Theater fans, I'm telling you right now, run, don't walk to see "Dear Evan Hansen" at The Music Box Theatre.