Not gonna lie – we’ve been thoroughly enjoying the entire Fairwinds Broadway in Orlando series (as usual), but Dear Evan Hansen genuinely stands out as the most important show of the season. With a limited, seven day run in Orlando, this wasn’t the most accessible show in this season’s lineup. Unless you are a Dr. Phillips subscriber or a lucky lottery winner, you didn’t get the chance to catch it while it was here (April 16-21), but it is one to chase down wherever the opportunity arises. Make it happen! Dear Evan Hansen is valid and relevant enough to practically be a necessity – for parents, for teens, for anyone who has ever felt awkward or alone, for anyone who’s lost someone… or lost themselves… in a hyper-connected world that hosts a remarkably disconnected society.
Dear Evan Hansen is one of the first theatrical shows that my daughter latched on to, and the first she brought to my attention, insisting that I just had to delve into it. I get it now. I felt it during the performance. Dr. Phillips Center is not a small venue, and it was packed, but that room was so captivated. I’ve attended so many types of shows at this location, and never have I been so intrigued by the audience. The applause was louder, the smiles were broader, the interest was heavier, and the emotions were “raw-er”. I couldn’t help but notice that the lady seated next to me cried many times throughout the evening. She was there alone, and I couldn’t help but wonder – how did this story speak to her? Was it personal? This is the kind of show that IS personal, and it probably resonates deeply and intimately with well more than half of every audience it meets.
In tiny little sprinklings of ways, Dear Evan Hansen has elements of a 1980s/1990s teen dramedy, along the lines of Better Off Dead, Can’t Buy Me Love, or Pretty in Pink. Add in the aspect of coming-of-age in today’s globally digitized society, and a whole lot of relatable, harsh reality – and you have a multi-generational story with significant, real impact. It’s the kind of story that you’ll feel the need to discuss and analyze – and you should!
This is not the kind of musical with elaborate costumes and chorus lines. It’s so much deeper than that and much more engaging. Dear Evan Hansen is musical theater that feels like it could be a movie – and it’s the kind you’d let your kids stay up late for. At the risk of redundancy… it’s important.