While in New York a few weeks back, I had a spare evening in which to see a Broadway show. I had intended to see Hamilton (which everyone has been raving about for a year) but made a late switch and saw Dear Evan Hansen instead. It won the Tony Award in 2017 for best new musical and was still showing with its original Broadway cast – headlined by Tony winners Ben Platt and Rachel Bay Jones. The show was written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul who also wrote the music for the film hit La La Land.
Getting a ticket wasn’t the cheapest assignment. For shows like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen, where there’s huge hype, you have to book months in advance. Because my trip was impromptu, I went through a reseller’s website called Stubhub. Instead of paying $95 USD, I paid $395 USD for a back row seat (the view was still fine). The lesson is to book early but it does illustrate how popular the show was. Also of note was the ticket pick-up process. Stubhub actually has a newly fit-out store in Manhattan. You walk in, go up to the desk, and the tickets are waiting in an envelope. It’s simple and easy.
I love live theatre as much as I love cinema. I have such respect for the actors who go on stage every night and deliver faultless performances in front of an audience. It requires so much more rehearsal than the medium of cinema. It a shame we get so few quality shows in Brisbane. If I lived permanently in New York, I’d be spending a LOT of money on theatre tickets and trying to make a go of it as a theatre critic.
It’s hard to describe the show itself but suffice to say it was amazing. It’s about a high school kid, Evan Hansen, who suffers from anxiety and has few friends. When another teenager at school commits suicide, he finds himself caught up in an elaborate lie. Through a series of mistimed events, the family of the deceased student thinks that Evan was their son’s best friend. He goes along with the ruse so as to avoid confrontation and to not further upset the family. Unfortunately, things escalate to a point where Evan finds the lies difficult to maintain.
It’s a heavy subject matter and the fact it’s framed as a musical gives it a “dark comedy” edge (which I love). I can’t imagine anyone else but Ben Platt in the lead role (he’s crazy good) but I’d still love to see the show make it to Australia one day. We waited 6 years for The Book of Mormon so hopefully it doesn’t take as long for Dear Evan Hansen.
The quality isn’t brilliant but you can watch a 4 minute clip of one of the best songs (performed at the Tony Awards) by clicking here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nlw8hp_vzec.
As a side note, I loitered outside the theatre afterwards to get my playbill signed by Ben Platt. It’s a nice memento and it’ll provide a lasting memory of an amazing theatrical experience.