BWW Review: DEAR EVAN HANSEN at the Paramount - You Will Be Found ... Laughing, Cheering, Crying, all the Feelings

BWW Review: DEAR EVAN HANSEN at the Paramount - You Will Be Found ... Laughing, Cheering, Crying, all the Feelings
Ben Levi Ross as 'Evan Hansen' and
the Company of the First North
American Tour of Dear Evan Hansen.
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy. 2018

After a shaky start (sorry to all you folks who got bumped from the Wednesday performance) the 2017 Tony Award winner, "Dear Evan Hansen" is here at the Paramount. Now, I managed to catch this phenomenal show on Broadway when it was still in previews, so I got to see the original cast. The cast I'm sure all you fans of the show are familiar with from the cast recording from having listened to it over and over again. Well not to worry, as much as I loved the originals, this cast is just as sublime and not a carbon copy but putting in their own spin on this incredible story and characters.

If you're unfamiliar with the story, to that I say, "good!" I don't know if you should really know too much going in. I know I went in relatively blind and I think I had the better experience for it. I will tell you this much. Evan Hansen is a socially awkward teen to the point that his therapist has him write affirmational letters to himself. When one of those letters ends up in the wrong hands, circumstances and a seemingly well-intentioned lie get out of Evan's control especially in our age of social media.

It's a story so resonant with today's culture that it could have popped right off the pages of Facebook and onto the stage. With the book by Steven Levenson and music by the multi-award winning team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul the show manages to tap into the awkward teen in us all and leave us with soaring anthems. Add into that the Scenic Design from David Korins with the stage covered in video walls so we can see the social media explosion as it happens, and the show becomes an immersive tale for the digital age.

As for the cast, like I said, sublime. The insert in the program informed me we were getting the "alternate" Evan for the night with Stephen Christopher Anthony. Alternate my foot! This kid is amazing! From the moment he set foot on stage he owned the role and his voice is incredible. With a stunningly nuanced performance he brought us all to tears. But then they all did. Jessica Phillips as Evan's Mom, Heidi, was fantastic especially with her beautiful 11 o'clock number. Aaron Lazar and Christiane Noll blew me away as the parents at the center of the lie each with very different and subtle takes on the moments as they unfold and with amazing chemistry with each other and with Marrick Smith and Maggie McKenna as their kids Connor and Zoe who both nailed it. Smith with his quite dualistic role and McKenna with the amazing arc her character has to take. And Jared Goldsmith and Phoebe Koyabe were wonderful as Evan's classmates and friends who get dragged up into this confusion.

The show is a winner! A perfect rendition of the Broadway show you may love or a killer, fresh story for you newbies out there. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give "Dear Evan Hansen" at the Paramount" a completely found YAY+. And for those lamenting that they couldn't get tickets before it sold out, there's hope. Those poor souls who missed the show on Wednesday due to weather and travel circumstances got rescheduled to a new performance on Friday, February 1st at 1PM. But as it's a matinee not all could make it, so some got refunds. Which means there are tickets available again! And GO!

"Dear Evan Hansen" performs at the Paramount Theatre through February 2nd. For tickets or information visit Seattle Theatre Group online at www.STGPresents.org.

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From This Author Jay Irwin

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