BWW Review: Broadway In Austin's DEAR EVAN HANSEN Tour Hits Right In The Heart
If you have never seen Broadway smash hit, DEAR EVAN HANSEN, you're in for an emotional roller coaster wrapped up in a multimedia work of art.
I attended this production knowing relatively little about the production, it's book by Steven Levenson with music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Premiering on Broadway in 2016, this show has found a devoted following and now I know why. I will not spoil the story in any way here, I will just say that it's a performance that should be seen by every young teen and their parents. Our modern, plugged-in world is a confusing place at the best of times and navigating an online presence via social media can be life altering. I shudder to think how much trouble I could have gotten into if Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or any other social platform were around when I was in my turbulent high school years. The lessons we take from the magnificently written script are many and deep. Perhaps the most important of these is no matter how isolated we feel in the great big world, we are never alone, illustrated brilliantly by the song You Will Be Found. Part of the wonderful impact of the show is presented through humor. There are quite a few belly laughs along the way. I was fortunate enough to attend with my 12 year old granddaughter, who was already a fan of the music, but watching her absorb the story with all of its uncomfortable teen moments was a bonding experience for us. She felt so deeply for each character she cringed, sobbed and laughed in her seat while taking it all in. Her biggest takeaway was a wish that everyone in her school could see the show and learn from it. I definitely agree.
The touring company is flawless, comprised of a cast of only eight actors, and what I'm sure is a hundred techs running the show backstage. Projections that appear on moving scrims become the perfect framework for the action on stage, boldly and forcefully moving at the speed of modern life, scenes shift with little pause. Stephen Christopher Anthony's turn in the title role is a gift. He embodies every ounce of teenage angst ever felt weighing on his shoulders and delivers such a beautiful performance it makes your heart ache. Alessandro Constantini gives the most viciously funny performance of the night as Jarod, Evan's 'family friend'. His wicked sense of comic timing is just a treat to watch. As Heidi Hansen, Jessica E. Sherman knocks it out of the park as Evan's overworked and underappreciated mother. She is that frustrated parent in all of us, just trying to be there for our kids while making a living. The entire cast is stellar and worthy of note, each actor gives memorable performances in every way.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of DEAR EVAN HANSEN is the perfect marriage of traditional musical theatre and modern acting with the best technical theatre has to offer. You may have listened to the soundtrack a thousand times, but you have not experienced the entirety of the production until you've been in the audience. Simply put, this is the whole package and it will stay in your heart long after the final bows have been taken.
DEAR EVAN HANSEN
Broadway In Austin at Bass Concert Hall
December 10 - 15
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with one 15 minute intermission