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THEATRE - “Dear Evan Hansen” Worth Being Found

Theatre Review by Jason Clevett (From February 2020 Online)
Ben Levi Ross as 'Evan Hansen' and Company
Ben Levi Ross as 'Evan Hansen' and Company
Image by: Matthew Murphy. 2018
The Company of the First North American Tour of DEH
The Company of the First North American Tour of DEH
Image by: Matthew Murphy. 2018
Claire Rankin as 'Cynthia Murphy' and Jessica Sherman as 'Heidi
Claire Rankin as 'Cynthia Murphy' and Jessica Sherman as 'Heidi
Image by: Matthew Murphy. 2018
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Arguably the highlight of the current Broadway Across Canada season, the multiple Tony Award winning and Grammy Award winning Dear Evan Hansen has arrived in Calgary, playing until February 23rd at the Jubilee Auditorium.

Although I was aware of the subject manner of the show, I purposely went into the production blind, having not listened to the soundtrack or done extensive research. I am glad I did, as the shows story and songs unfolding for the first time on stage enhanced the experience for me, although those that can sing every word of the soundtrack are not in for any less of an experience.

There is a lot to unpack in this show. It’s not a fluffy musical, it has incredible depth. Exploring universal themes like depression, anxiety, social media, feeling invisible, suicide, grief, putting others on a pedestal after they die, and a need to belong, Dear Evan Hansen manages to connect to everyone. The emotion was palpable at times in the theatre, and noticeable sniffles could be heard, as well as tear stained faces headed up the aisles. This does not mean the show is depressing – quite the opposite. It’s difficult to put into words how seeing the show resonates. But reviews and feedback from theatre attendees is universally positive for a reason.

The show would not work without the cast, who is tasked with pouring their entire soul onto the stage. Acting is challenging period, but to actually shed tears on stage every night requires another level of skill. Stephen Christopher Anthony steps into the title character and huge shoes as the incredible Ben Platt originated the role. Anthony does both Platt and the character proud, bringing all of Evan’s teenage angst to life and carrying a large part of the show. Jessica E. Sherman’s take on Evan’s Mom Heidi is also a standout. Her rendition of So Big/So Small will leave you breathless.

The show had a great deal of humour, such as Sincerely, Me in which Evan and Jared (Alessandro Costantini) create emails with Connor (Noah Kieserman). The cast is rounded out with Evan’s fellow schoolmate Alana (Ciara Alyse Harris) and Connor’s family Larry (John Hemphill), Cynthia (Claire Rankin) and sister Zoe (Stephanie La Rochelle.) Each actor fills their character with depth and heart.

I have been lucky enough to see many musicals, from big budget spectacles to jukebox musicals to more intimate pieces. Simply put, Dear Evan Hansen is one of the best musicals I have ever seen.


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Contributor Jason Clevett |


Locale Calgary |


Topic Broadway Across Canada | Theatre |


(GC)

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