“Dear Evan Hansen” musical inspires audience

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When it comes to entertainment our phone or computer is often the first place we look to get it. But even the immense 30ft tall screens that we encounter in movie theatres can’t compare to the experience of something so up close as live theatre.

I recently went to see the musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” and it truly rekindled my admiration and appreciation of the stage. While I myself am in theatre and have been in many of Har-Ber’s productions, it is quite a different experience to be on the other side of the curtain.

Music has brought people together since its creation, so it’s no surprise that “Dear Evan Hansen” has done the exact same thing. With its powerful message and relatable story, it has become a Tony award-winning show. Its popularity can be attributed not only to an incredible cast, but the remarkable story.

It is centered around the life of socially awkward, 17-year-old Evan who feels invisible until; through a series of crazy events he becomes national news.

The show discusses pressing societal issues like anxiety, loneliness and isolation, teen suicide, and the impacts of social media. It told a story, it had a purpose, and it made people think. Not to mention that it’s live. I was reminded of that when at intermission there was an announcement that the actor playing Zoe was going to be played by a different person.

Who knows why that happened, but it was very strange at first to adjust to a new person being her. The first actor played Zoe more seriously with teen angst, but the second made the character a little more upbeat and easy going.

Every person interprets a character slightly different, so how they portray someone won’t look the same as anyone else. When the understudy got out on the stage she was acting like she had been there all along. I thought, “Does she not realize she wasn’t in the first half of the show?”

But of course she knew, they just handled whatever the problem may have been with such ease and preparedness.  I’m still curious to know why that happened, but I guess I’ll always be left to wonder.

The show has stuck with me differently than a movie usually does. I mean, I was in the moment, watching the conflict unfold and witnessing a piece of art take shape before my eyes. There was a level of vulnerability and closeness in the theatre, a shared connectedness with the people around me. It was like the actor’s emotions were being emitted into the crowd; even now I can hear echoes of the singer’s harmonies reverberating off the walls.

I also think the show deserves applause for its level of creativity and innovativeness. To make an entire world within the confines of a stage is down right amazing.

The stage was filled with moving scrims (transparent screen) that projected social media feeds and text messages and sometimes changed color to reflect the emotion of a character. Their presence for the entirety of the show seemed to subtly acknowledge mass media’s constant presence.

The designers weren’t worried about constructing a wall-to-wall room filled with the precise furniture-there were no exact “rooms” throughout the whole show- but working with light and shadow, a few props, the audience’s imagination to give the feeling of a room.

To read the rest of the review, visit harberherald.com

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