August 12, 2018
Dear Evan Hansen
When Steven Levenson’s play, Dear Evan Hansen first hit Broadway theaters in 2016, it was an instant hit. This musical with music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, follows the life of a Evan Hansen, a senior in high school, being raised by a single mother. Evan struggles with confidence and socialness. He feels lonely both in school and at home since his mother must work a demanding job to earn a living for her and her son. His mother, Heidi, is also attending night classes so she can become a paralegal. One day, Connor, a another troubled boy at the school that Evan intends, commits suicide. His parents find a note that they assume is his suicide note lying beside him. It’s addressed to Evan and seems to be indicating that the two were good friends. This is not the case however. In reality, Evan wrote a note to himself encouraging himself to have a good day and be himself, which was an assignment from his therapist. A few days before Connor’s death, he stole the note from Evan and had it with him when he died. This misunderstanding leads to a whole series of events that put Evan in the spotlight for just a little while and give him a second family in addition to some solace in his life.
I really feel for Evan who I first met when attending a showing of this musical soon after it came out with my mother. The play introduces him pretty much right away, writing one of his notes to himself on his computer. Then soon after, Connor’s family is tricked into thinking that he and Connor were really good friends. This makes them very happy because Connor was a loner. He was difficult with his parents and his sister, into drugs. While I know what Evan did was not great, giving a desperate family somewhat false hope, I can understand his reasons for doing so. Evan’s father walked out on him and his mother when he was just a young child and he has a sense of abandonment. He finally finds a father figure in Connor’s father, Larry He becomes involved romantically with Zoe, Connor’s sister, Zoe who he has had a crush on for a long time but has not knew how to approach. He never thought a kid like him who is so socially awkward would get a girlfriend. Cynthia, Connor’s mother provides Evan with home cooked meals, something that he was lacking often since his mother works night shifts at a hospital and attends night classes at least once a week. I know what it’s like to feel alone in school. To feel set apart from the other kids. If I was in a similar situation to Evan I might have done the very same thing. It gives him some fame and popularity in school. Connor’s death brings a lot of the school together which is unusual. Kids who never felt heard before are speaking up, admitting that like Connor and Evan they also have felt alone. I think Dear Evan Hansen is a really important play in a sense because it really touches upon what it’s like to be a highschool student. How hard it can be in terms of socialness.
The reason I think the music in the show guides the characters through life’s ups and downs is that they all really represent the feelings of these characters. Feelings of loneliness and isolation in school and at home. My favorite song is Waving through a Window, the second song in the musical. In it, Evan describes how he never really goes for anything or takes chances in life socially and otherwise because he has learned the hard way that he will only be disappointed. This song has an upbeat rhythm but the underlying words are sad and represent loss of hope. The lyrics are clever and despite its dull meaning the song is catchy. If one listens to the song more closely however, they can also appreciate the sadness in it and relate to some of the things that Even is saying, such as, “Step out, step outta the sun. If you keep gettin’ burned.” (Page 18). These lines truly show how devastating life can be for Evan, which is something each and every one of us can relate to.
Loneliness and Fear
Loneliness is like a vice. In can grip you tight and refuse to let go. It can make you feel like there is nothing in this world worth living for. It is not a pleasant feeling, probably one of the most unpleasant feelings out there. We all feel lonely at times. We also all feel sometimes that we should not take chances because when we’ve tried in the past, we’ve been shot down. This is not a pleasant feeling either and we’re always afraid to try again. Fear can be a vice too. Instead of being disappointed again you simply don’t try. But this is wrong. If we never try we don’t get anywhere. Life is tricky. It will knock you down more times than you can count. The trick is to get up again and keep going until you conquer it.
Levenson, Steven. Dear Evan Hansen. Theater Communications Group, 2017.
Song = Breaking Through A Window by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul