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Review: DEAR EVAN HANSEN at Denver Center For The Performing Arts

Dear Evan Hansen is one of THOSE musicals.

Review: DEAR EVAN HANSEN at Denver Center For The Performing Arts

Dear Evan Hansen is one of THOSE musicals. Popular by name and reputation. Going into the performance, I definitely had some preconceived notions. Some lived up to my expections while others turned out differently than the rumours I had heard about the show. For starters, I am incredibly familiar with the soundtrack and just like every other theatre queen I have blown my voice out singing "Waving Through a Window." The soundtrack is even better in person expecially when sung by an all star cast.

As Evan's fellow classmates, Jared and Alana, Alessandro Costantini and Ciara Alyse Harris each give their own version of comic relief to this rather dark comedy. Costantini plays the role with this underlying chip on his shoudler that grows along with Evan's "fame" while Harris is the perfect overachiever, eager to add another credential not just to her college resume application, but more importantly, her email signature. I only wish the roles of Jared and Alana allowed Costantini and Harris the opportunity to to showcase more of their great voices. As the deceased Connor's parents, Larry and Cynthia Murphy, John Hemphill and Kelsey Venter are a great dynamic duo. Each of them strong singers and actors, they rose to the task of portraying a married couple going through their own unique hardships - and then their son dies by suicide. Portraying their daughter, Zoe, is Stephanie La Rochelle. La Rochelle is so gentle and pure in the role, yet displays the perfect level of maturity. Her voice gives me strong singer/songwriter vibes in all the best "Sara Bareilles" ways. As Evan's mother, Heidi, Jessica E. Sherman is truly at home in the role with a clear history associated with the show. Sherman is equal parts powerhouse vocalist and authentic actor.

In the title role of Evan Hansen, Stephen Christopher Anthony was a delight to watch. Rounding out his tour engagement before heading back to Broadway for its final performances this fall, Anthony is among the more seasoned Evans. Anthony is truly incredible, delivering the character with such nuance. Something small but significant I appreciated was how committed he was to singing through the character versus how he as a person would sing the song. However, there are moments where the already vocally demanding role demands more and in those moments Anthony pops into a more techincal, trained approach. These are the moments I truly relished. I am always a fan when I can clearly identify not just a sense of talent, but dedication.

The critique I had heard most going into the show was that it glorifies bad behavior. We follow along as Evan's inadvertant lie/not-whole-truth spirals in both directions, but I don't agree that Evan, nor his choices, are given an ultimate tone of high ethics. If anything, I think it tries to work against the trope that good people do good things and bad people do bad things. Spoiler Alert: good people do bad things;good people make bad choices. There are also significant plot revelations toward the end of the show I wasn't familiar with and they contribute in a meaningful way for why it all transpires. By no means am I condoning Evan's actions, I'm just saying I don't think the show does that either - it simply portrays what happens when you get in over your head.

The tour of Dear Evan Hansen continues across the nation this summer with a new cast coming in before the end of the month. For performances, check your local listings!

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