By Anthony Singleton
Dear Evan Hansen was a must-see, but not for the reason you think. From the moment we sat in our seats, I knew we were in for an experience. The stage was organized in a way that drew viewers’ attention to what would be a big focus of the show. With a cast of 8 playing the main characters, it was important to take the focus off the size of the stage In order to keep the viewers’ focus on the actors instead. There were always bright and beautiful displays in the background to accent the simplistic sets used to create a world that made us feel part of the story. With the opening act consisting of only a bed and file cabinet, I wondered how the rest of the show would bring its viewers into the mind of a lonely high school senior’s quest for acceptance from his love interest Zoe.
Time and time again I found myself less worried about the visual appeal of the sets on stage, and more attracted to the story and the characters themselves. Dear Evan Hansen is a story about human connection and about the destruction miscommunication can have on a family system. Evan and his mother lived in the same place but were miles away emotionally only seeing one another in passing. Heidi Hanson burned both ends of the candle trying to provide for her and her son not realizing that overworking herself made Evan feel unnoticed causing him to find solace in the lies he tells to give comfort to the Murphy family as they try to reconcile their son Connor’s suicide.
The Murphy family is dysfunctional and exhausted emotionally from years of Connor’s mental health issues and anger. Evan’s lies pertaining to his relationship with Conner become the glue that holds together the Murphy family not knowing they are standing on a foundation made of limestone. Dear Evan Hanson is a reflection of American society and the lack of attention we pay to our children. It represents our need for achievement over investing in our families. As a man with children, I found myself reflecting on how many times I was too busy with work, college, and my own mental health issues to ask my girls about what was going on in their lives beyond the service shit we ask on a daily basis. The question is, was I truly listening to their needs wants, and desires?
Dear Evan Hanson ignites something that every parent tries to shove deep down into the pits of our stomachs. Waking up and realizing their child had died with no explanation or closure. This is a story of disconnect, fear, loss, and choosing a lie in order to fill a family’s fractured heart. I was moved to tears wondering how I would handle something so traumatic if it was me going through something so traumatizing. I have only one thing to say in closing, do we ever know who is suffering and why? Should it really take a story about the loss of a child for us to be confronted with our society’s mental health crisis? Dear Even Hanson is not just a play. It’s a cry for help if you ask me and to our children. You’ve been heard.