I have seen DEAR EVAN HANSEN and remain overwhelmed by the lyrical beauty of its score (Benj Pasek & Justin Paul), the power of these performances, and the emotional intelligence of its book (Steven Levenson). This Tony Award-winning musical juggernaut has as ardent a following as “Hamilton” and with good reason. I saw it for the first time here in Boston where it recently opened at The Opera House presented by Broadway in Boston. The show comes down like an avalanche, full to bursting with the frank loneliness, suffering and salvation on the way to embracing one’s self.
Ben Levi Ross in the title role gives a soul-baring performance as a painfully shy nerd trying to be seen and heard as life, death, family, and friends swirl around him. His vocals soared straight from his heart and direct to my central artery. Ross leads a superb cast of singer/actors who deliver the show’s ardent score and deeply humane message with impassioned emotional acuity. Jessica Phillips as Evan’s single mother Heidi is caught between a rock and a hard place, picking her way through every nook and cranny of that painful, delicate balance.
Despite the show’s too sudden dispatch of the dangers of metastatic social media, this has to be one of the wisest and most poignant musicals I have ever seen. Fluidly directed by Michael Greif (last season’s brilliant “Man in the Ring”) DEAR EVAN HANSEN is masterful, right down to its scenic design which includes a multi-screened collage of projections, and lighting which illuminates every heart-stopping moment. Drop everything and see DEAR EVAN HANSEN at the Opera House before it leaves town on August 4. You will be found.