From Dear Evan Hansen website

The book Dear Evan Hansen was written by Steven Levenson. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul wrote the lyrics, and Michael Greif was the director. Pasek had the original idea when he was in high school and a classmate died. He noticed how quickly others rushed to claim the status of grieving intimates. “From that unlikely premise came the story of anxiety-ridden teenager Evan Hansen, who, through a series of misconceptions both in and out of his control, achieves the popular acceptance he’s craved, through the lie that he was best friends with a student who has taken his own life,” wrote theater critic Peter Marks in a 2010 Washington Post article.

And in case you don’t follow Broadway news and haven’t heard, Dear Evan Hansen stars Ben Platt. When I was wondering if I should buy tickets on the secondary market for this show, a friend told me that it was worth the inflated price to see Ben Platt.

There are a lot of articles out there about how amazing Ben Platt is, playing lonely and alienated teenager Evan Hansen. Honestly, you need to see this show to understand just how amazing he is. The emotional vulnerability and angst of the main character is heartbreaking and exhausting to watch. At this point in the run, Ben Platt skips a couple of shows every week to rest his voice, his body, and, I would imagine, his psyche.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

In a New York Times article from earlier this year, Joel Lovell writes, “A lot has been said about the extraordinary physicality of Mr. Platt’s performance: the hunched posture he maintains throughout the show, the facial tics and nail-biting and the repetitive worrying of his fingers at the seam of his pants, the way in which he never for a moment loses this finely grained physical expression of Evan, even in the midst of the 11 songs that he performs, three of which are wrenching solos. He conveys such longing and loneliness and guilt and shame in those songs, with his voice, of course, but also through the pained contortions of his body and face.”

Evan’s fictional friendship with Connor is based on a letter that Evan has written to himself, at the recommendation of his therapist, a letter that Connor has taken away from Evan by force. After Connor’s death, when his parents find the letter, they desperately want to believe that Evan was Connor’s friend and that Connor was not entirely alone in life. Unfortunately, 17-year-old Evan is struggling with his own anxiety and alienation. He isn’t strong enough or emotionally healthy enough to stand up to these grieving parents and their desperation to find meaning in their son’s death.

Have you ever felt like nobody was there
Have you felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere
Have you ever felt like you could disappear
Like you could fall and no one would hear

As you can probably imagine, events start to spinning out of Evan’s control and disappointment and heartbreak ensue. At the end of the show, Evan’s mom, Heidi, tells him that she finally understands what happened, that she is sorry for his pain and that she will always be there for him.

But like that February day
I will take your hand, squeeze it tightly and say
There’s not another truck in the driveway
Your mom isn’t going anywhere
Your mom will stay right here
Your mom isn’t going anywhere
Your mom will stay right here
No matter what
I’ll be here

According to a HuffPost article, “The suicide rate for girls ages 15 to 19 doubled from 2007 to 2015, when it reached its highest point in 40 years, according to the CDC. The suicide rate for boys ages 15 to 19 increased by 30 percent over the same time period. The analysis looked at data from 1975 to 2015, the most recent year those statistics were available.”

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Dear Evan Hansen isn’t profound, but it is being seen by thousands of people, old and young. Hopefully the show will help families talk about the issue of teen suicide, especially those who may have not talked about it before. Hopefully it is reminding adults to bring up the topic with their teens. Hopefully it is telling teens that they are not alone in their pain. In these days of division in our national government, our local communities and even within our own families, and with the increasing threats to our personal safety, we need all the hope we can get.

Dear Evan Hansen: Now playing at the Music Box Theatre, 239 W 45th Street, New York. You can find ticket information on the official website or your favorite theatre ticket site.

Note: Ben Platt will be leaving the cast of Dear Evan Hansen on November 19, 2017, but I think the show will still be worth the price of a ticket. We’ll have to see if it will still be worth the price of a ticket on the secondary market though. In the meantime, here is a fun video featuring Ben and his Dear Evan Hansen replacements.