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A Musical with a Message

NYC Show Poster, Dear Evan Hansen, source: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjsp_KVnsbXAhWHTSYKHUT_DWAQjhwIBQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.broadway.com%2Fshows%2Fdear-evan-hansen%2F&psig=AOvVaw3yabbtfM84Q12pYFBnSvmS&ust=1511029625584290

NYC Show Poster, Dear Evan Hansen, source: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjsp_KVnsbXAhWHTSYKHUT_DWAQjhwIBQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.broadway.com%2Fshows%2Fdear-evan-hansen%2F&psig=AOvVaw3yabbtfM84Q12pYFBnSvmS&ust=1511029625584290

Jessica Townsend

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Dear Evan Hansen is a fresh, new musical that tackles issues with mental illness while providing a captivating story and striking music. It’s been nominated for nine Tonys so far, and it’s clear to see why.

This show follows the story of Evan Hansen, a seventeen year old who struggles with social anxiety and depression. He writes letters to himself as a method of venting, thus the title. One of these letters ends up in the hands of another student, Connor Murphy, who commits suicide shortly after. When the letter is found in his pocket, his parents mistake it as a suicide note addressed to his friend, Evan Hansen. When his parents tell Hansen what happened, he panics and goes along with the lie, hoping it will blow over. However, one thing leads to another and Hansen finds himself facing a troubling situation that got way out of hand.

One of the best parts of this show is it’s ability to address mental illness without romanticizing it. Murphy, in his short time on stage, exhibits all the symptoms of depression and borderline personality disorder. That being said, he doesn’t act like a stereotypical “emo” kid. Murphy turns to drug use and acts out impulsivly. His parents didn’t take him seriously, so he never got the help he needed. He didn’t have close relationships, and possessed a harsh persona, causing people to view him as a scary freak.

In some ways, Hansen was similar. He made bad desisions, but he did the right thing to face them. He also has a supportive mother who, though she may never fully understand what her son’s going through, is willing to listen to him and learn. These complex characters are great examples of things people struggle with every day.

The music is just as beautiful as the playwriting. They contain a broad mix of upbeat, playful songs, like Sincerely Me, and emotionally crushing ones, like Words Fail. All of them tend to lead up to a heart swelling end. A personal favorite, Requiem, is a song that expresses the internal conflict felt by Zoe Murphy following her brothers passing. Laura Dreyfuss, the actress behind Zoe Murphy, has a powerful voice that enthralls the audience. This astounding music was created by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul.

The actors convey emotion through their voices perfectly. From teasing tones to voice cracks and sobs, they’re always on point. This emotion is part of what makes the official soundtrack so great, as you don’t have to see them to know what’s happening. Everyone should give it an attentive listen and, if possible, go see Dear Evan Hansen live.

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A Musical with a Message