BWW Review: DEAR EVAN HANSEN, Welcome to New Orleans, It's Going to Be A Great Time
Dear Evan Hansen, today is going to be a good day and here's why: you're in New Orleans now. After the incident with the Hard Rock Hotel closed down the Saenger Theatre, New Orleans theatergoers were concerned about the state of the upcoming season. With a relocation to the Mahalia Jackson theater, Dear Evan Hansen made it to the Crescent City after all, and it is not a show you will want to miss.
Dear Evan Hansen is one of the most contemporary shows of our time. Leaning heavily on social media, with references to specific platforms like Facebook, Dear Evan Hansen explores the world through the eyes of anxious teen, Evan, who gets caught up in a never-ending lie. When the class outcast Connor steals Evan's letter-writing assignment for his therapist, a simple misunderstanding progresses into a web of falsities for Evan.
This show is visually stunning. While the set pieces are fairly simplistic, the show uses impressive screens as a backdrop to the scenes. Projected you will often see social media feeds or snippets of Evan's letter or video clips. It serves as an overt reminder for the world in which these teenagers exist.
The casting for the Dear Evan Hansen tour is unmatched. While Ben Platt set an impossible standard or all the Evans to follow, Stephen Christopher Anthony slips into the cast, both figuratively and literally, with a quiet vulnerability. Anthony's voice is powerful. He delivers "Waving through a Window" and "For Forever" with perfect timing and heart. Particularly notable is the fan favorite "You Will Be Found," in which his acting and vocals blend together beautifully to deliver the show's main anthem.
This cast is packed with talent. Stephanie La Rochelle plays a moody and hurting Zoe Murphy and she shines in "Requiem." The dynamic between Noah Kieserman's Connor Murphy and Alessandro Constantini's Jared matched with Stephen Christopher Anthony livens up an otherwise heavy show. Notably, Jessica E. Sherman in the role of Heidi Hansen could singlehandedly demolish what's left of the Hard Rock with her belting ability.
Dear Evan Hansen is not an easy show to watch. Triggering for suicide and those who have lost loved ones, the musical is clear on its point of view. "Words Fail" displays arguably one of the most uncomfortable and heart-wrenching scenes set to stage. While the first act provides comic relief in songs like "Sincerely Me," prepare the tissues for the second act, which does not let up in emotion.
Dear Evan Hansen's book by Steven Levenson and music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul come together to create a show that will stay with you long after you leave the theater. The show will play through November 10th at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Tickets can be purchased at www.broadwayinneworleans.com or (800) 982-2787.