BWW Review: DEAR EVAN HANSEN at the Eccles Theater is Enthralling
The national tour of Dear Evan Hansen has arrived at the Eccles Theater, bringing fascinating story, deliberately flawed characters, and a modern score that are enthralling and deeply emotional, eliciting both sadness and hope.
Best Musical Tony winner Dear Evan Hansen (book by Stephen Levenson, music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul) comes from the Tony, Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe winning songwriting team of THE GREATEST SHOWMAN and A CHRISTMAS STORY. Socially awkward high school senior Evan Hansen finds himself caught in a web of deceit after a misunderstanding that he struggles to correct. As the lie becomes more difficult to control, it begins to bring him everything he has wanted in life. Is it really wrong if it's helping people?
Stephen Christopher Anthony, who understudied Evan Hansen on Broadway, completely surrenders himself to the role, creating a fully realized character physically, vocally, and emotionally. He demands attention from the first word to the last, drawing out the empathy of the audience, and his singing voice delivers effortlessly.
Stephanie La Rochelle as Zoe Murphy deserves special mention for her realistic portrayal of a grieving teenage girl with vocals that seep into the soul.
Half of the simply stellar cast originated their roles in the Toronto sit-down production last year, including La Rochelle, Jessica E. Sherman as Heidi Hansen, Claire Rankin as Cynthia Murphy, and Alessandro Costantini as Jared Kleinman. They are joined by Noah Kieserman as Connor Murphy, John Hemphill as Larry Murphy, and Ciara Alyse Harris as Alana Beck.
The production design cannily augments the storytelling by reflecting the digital world enveloping the characters, including social media. The projection design by Peter Nigrini and scenic design by David Korins work together seamlessly to accomplish this, effectively creating emotional response through the abstract. The stunning lighting design by Japhy Weideman perfectly complements their work and is chill-inducing when paired with the music and performances.
This is an extremely high-quality national tour of an unforgettable contemporary musical.
DEAR EVAN HANSEN plays the Eccles Theater for a limited engagement through Saturday, March 14, 2020. For tickets, call ArtTix at 801-355-ARTS (2787) or visit www.artsaltlake.org.
A digital drawing for a limited number of $25 tickets is available (/salt-lake-city/article/DEAR-EVAN-HANSEN-Announces-Salt-Lake-City-Digital-Drawing-20200227).
CONTENT ADVISORY: The musical contains several instances of strong language.