Since its Broadway Debut in 2015, Dear Evan Hansen has touched the hearts of millions of people worldwide.
Whether they saw the show on Broadway, on a tour, or simply just listened to the soundtrack over and over again, the message remains exactly the same. This show is beautiful, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and downright incredible.
The story follows seventeen-year-old Evan, a boy living inside his own head as he struggles through a day-to-day life riddled with depression and anxiety. His mother Heidi can’t seem to find the time in the day to reach him as she works overtime as a single mother, wanting what’s best for her son and not knowing how to give it. On the much wealthier side of town from the Hansen’s lives the Murphy’s, a family who is the constant proof that money can not buy happiness. Though they live comfortably, the family struggles with their troubled son Connor, someone who feels completely invisible, much like Evan, but in such a different way. The two boys struggle within themselves, and when a suicide shakes everyone to their core, a new side of Evan comes out as he embarks on a journey of finding himself through the deepest tragedies, and finds his own dedication to making sure that nobody ever feels invisible, the way he and so many others did.
Dear Evan Hansen on stage was exclusive to wherever the touring cast went, as well as New York for the Broadway version, but the incredible thing about the story coming to the screen is that it’s now available for so many to see. Dear Evan Hansen is so important, it showcases the fact that no matter how alone we feel we never truly are, and that is a message that so many people need to hear, including myself when I first saw the show back in 2016. I can not wait for so many other people to hear the message that this show brings.
The show centers greatly around the topic of suffering through life’s most unexpected events. “I think that one of the things that I learned about grief while exploring this character is that nobody grieves the same way,” Amy Adams said at the virtual roundtable that we attended with the cast. “And to just be patient with yourself, and to be patient with others who are also going through grief. Give them that space, give yourself that space, to explore those stages. And to be kind to yourself.”
“Grief is not linear” Adams’ co-star and on-stage husband Danny Pino said in response. “And sometimes it hits you all at once, in all kinds of different ways whether it’s anger, or despair or guilt. And anything random can trigger it all at once, sometimes feeling the anger, especially towards someone who has committed suicide, can make someone upset at themselves for feeling that anger towards the victim.”
“The first time I saw Dear Evan Hansen was on Broadway,” Kaitlyn Dever said, in response to a question regarding the interpretation of her character Zoe Murphy. “And the broadway show is so profound, but we’re getting the opportunity to literally dive deeper and to get physically closer to these characters. And so there was an element of keeping in mind the Zoe’s before me and how I was filling some very big shoes and keeping the Zoe on paper in mind while we were shooting.”
An important factor about the show is the paradox we see within it about fake stories that create real emotions. “You know when we first started writing this show together, there was, I wish I knew the name of the person, I believe he was a Christian rock musician who was essentially dying of cancer, said Playwright Steven Levinson. “And he went through this long process, he lost a lot of hair all this weight, and he was still performing these concerts. And people were incredibly moved by his music and his story, and it turned out to be a hoax. The whole time he wasn’t sick, he was fine. But it was something for us, what stuck with me was the people who were moved by him. Even though it was fake, it was still real what they experienced, there was still a real connection and a real sense of community that they found and a real sense of belonging and meaning and so that paradox to me remains a very interesting one.”
“The one thing I felt while watching the show and then while we were working together on the movie was, I remember asking you about certain lines, like is there any way to justify this, responded Director Stephen Chbosky I didn’t want anyone thinking about the orchard as a hoax, as a fraud. The 100 thousand dollars was raised, people gave their money for this idea. On one level that is fraud and that is very dark, but the orchard isn’t a lie. Conor’s love of the orchard isn’t a lie, and I love that there were little things that we added to make sure people knew that this was okay.”
I got to ask Ben Platt, Amandla Stenberg, and Julianne Moore a question at the virtual roundtable. Check out what they had to say!
The film hits theaters on September 24, 2021.