Hamilton was supposed to be the “best show” during this season at Tampa Bay’s Straz Center. However, this past week I saw Dear Evan Hansen and I enjoyed it more than Hamilton. While Hamilton is very much worth seeing, I was more emotionally connected to Dear Evan Hansen.
The musical tells the story of a high school senior, Evan, and his struggles with anxiety. For the entire first act, Evan wears a cast on his arm from falling from a tree the summer before. He has an assignment from his therapist to write letters to himself entitled “Dear Evan Hansen” as a way to grow in his confidence and his self esteem.
These letter are suppose to be positive, however Evan is not feeling positive. The only person who is keeping him going is his crush, Zoe, who does not notice him.
While Evan was writing this letter, Zoe’s brother Connor saw him writing and freaked out because Evan was writing about his sister and is already not mentally stable. Connor takes the letter and kills himself that night. Connor’s parents found the letter and assume Evan and Connor were best friends and assumed this was Connor’s suicide note.
Evan creates this story that he and Connor were such great friends because of his letter just so people would notice him. This lie would eventually blow up right in his face. He learns to accept that what he did was wrong and to realize that he is broken and it is okay to ask for help.
With a show such as Dear Evan Hansen, it is very much an ensemble show. The entire cast worked together to tell this story. The audience could feel the love they had for one another and for the story.
Ben Levi Ross had the huge task of play Evan Hansen, and slayed every second of his performance. His belt was AMAZING! He so emotionally connected to the character. In many ways it did not seem like he was acting. It did not feel like he was forcing himself to become this anxious teenager. It felt authentic which helped made the audience more invested with the piece.
Watching the show made me very reflective on my own high school/young adult journey.
I have struggled with anxiety for most of my life. There were many moments throughout my high school/college journey where I felt exactly how Evan felt. I felt as though I was invisible, which is exactly why I have had my suicide attempts. There are many moments in my life where I felt that I was worthless and that no one would notice if I disappear. There are still many days that I feel this way.
However, it’s doing things such as things such as theatre, blogging, drag, going to Disney, that keep me going.
I feel this particular is very important because there are not many musicals that touch mental health in this type of way. So many people struggle with thoughts of suicide and are often do not feel safe to talk about what they are feeling. It shows that we are not alone.
An aspect of the show I enjoyed was the use of social media. In the song “You Will Be Found”, Evan creates a speech during Connor’s memorial that there is always someone there for you, even during your darkest moments. His speech went viral and it brought this community positivity and love for each other. This inspired blogs and posts to show people that we all matter and that each of us are special.
I feel social media is a great place if you have social anxiety where you can make friends through different interests. There are groups and outlets for everything that you have a passion for. This way you can still interact with people and you are not feeling alone.
I have never ugly cried during a musical as much as I did during Dear Evan Hansen. It tells a story that is every relatable to todays audience and that we can all find an emotional connection with. If you have the opportunity to see this beautiful show, I highly recommend it. It is a reminder that we are all special and that no deserves to feel they are invisible. Always know that you are not alone! You will be found ❤