Dear Evan Hansen,
Today is going to be a good day and here’s why. Because today, no matter what else, today at least… you’re you. No pretense, no ego, no ax to grind. Just… you.
When I first met you in 2017, your anonymity made you most intriguing. Your manifesto about social media was respectable and your openness about anxiety disorders seemed genuine.
However, somewhere between the Tony Awards and the film, that ingenuousness got lost. You stopped seeing the forest from the trees. You got too smug, and that instant celebrity felt a little bit exploitative.
But now, you’ve been found anew, reincarnated in the form of Anthony Norman, who has your back unreservedly. Anthony embodies the realness that made you, Evan, accessible and laudable. His portrayal is more sorrowful than sinister, vulnerable than villainized.
And that characterization has a ripple effect on the rest of the cast, who are faithful and credible in this redemptive retelling of your story, which feels more pressing than ever post-pandemic.
So, though yours may not be totally faultless in its portraiture of mental illness or mood disorders, it does provide an opportunity to unplug and have a collective experience in real life. And who knows, it may even be a gateway for people longing for meaningful conversations, increased awareness, or radical empathy.
Dear Evan Hansen runs through Sunday at the Durham Performing Arts Center. For more information visit https://www.dpacnc.com/.
Note: An online Educator’s Guide and Book Guide, offers discussion starters for parents or educators. For a free download, visit the Hatchette Book Group website.
Dr. Alisa Hurwitz (Dr. Drama) provides additional insight into the Dear Evan Hansen phenomenon in her blog. Read more.
If you or someone you know is struggling, there are free resources: