Day Twenty-Seven (Dear Evan Hansen)

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I love this musical. Sure, I’ve never seen the show. But I know the album by heart and I have not stopped listening to it for the past few months. Every couple of months I find a new musical obsession and this one has been my most recent poison. After watching the Tony’s tonight, I feel that it is time to give this show it’s due mention. It absolutely deserves the praise that it has been getting and I’m going to attempt to give my two cents on why. That being said, there were a lot of great musicals and plays up for Tonys this year (or criminally robbed of acknowledgment) and this isn’t intended as an insult to any of those shows. In fact, I now have an “albums to obsess over next” list that is far too long after tonight’s performances. This is just a chance to ramble about the one show I got into before tonight…

I doubt there is anything I can say about Ben Platt that has not been said before. His performance is mesmerizing and he gives absolutely everything that he is into the character of Evan Hansen. On top of all that, he’s just a humble sweet kid (despite the fact that he is two years my elder…). It was so exciting to see him acknowledged for his astounding performance and he was the highlight of the “Dear Evan Hansen” musical number tonight. It was such a treat to get just a taste of his performance.

The whole show is great though. All of the actors and actresses are phenomenal, the songs are addicting, and the plot is like none I’ve ever seen before. It’s surprisingly very similar to “World’s Greatest Dad”, a strange dark comedy starring Robin Williams. Both feature a character who is unsatisfied with his life and feels unimportant. Both stories have the main characters improving their own lives and reputations by lying about a fellow character’s manner of death. Both character’s find that the lie becomes bigger than themselves and have to confess by the end. The plots are weirdly similar, considering one is a dark comedy and the other is a teen drama.

But that is where “Dear Evan Hansen” really flourishes. The way the show has personally connected with me is in the way the show tackles shyness, social anxiety, and teenage angst. It’s very sensitive and mature in it’s portrayal of teen suicide, but that message never resonated with me. I have been fortunate in the fact that I have never met anyone personally who passed away from suicide. However, the topic of suicide is vital to the plot. The main message of the musical is that “you will be found” and that “no one deserves to disappear”. It’s easy to feel, especially at the high school age, that you are invisible. That you don’t matter. That nobody cares about your struggles, nobody hears your suffering, and nobody sees your pain. That’s not true, of course. But that doesn’t make the feeling any less real or valid.

I’ve always been the shy kid. I spent most of Elementary School playing with imaginary friends. I spent most of Middle School trying to hide and getting told that “I had a lot of unused potential”. I was always the invisible kid, terrified to raise my hand or put myself in the spotlight. Scared to be noticed and scared to not be noticed. I’m awkward, I’m weird, and I’m shy as hell. This musical validated that. My past self would have loved this show so much. As I am now, I definitely appreciate the fact that this musical exists and is so popular. Watching a musical where the lead is quiet, anxious, and always trying to make himself as small as possible is so incredibly validating to people like me. It’s easy to feel alone when you’re a secluded outsider who is too scared to make friends. But we’re not alone. Other people have gone through the same struggles and more will go through these struggles in the future. But that does not mean that we deserve to be forgotten. I hope that people like me will see this show or hear this soundtrack and that it can validate them. This show means everything to me. This is a message that is so so so so important. Below is a quote that I think exemplifies this message quite well. It’s a quote that also has to do with teen suicide, from one of my all-time favorite televisions shows.

“You know what? I was wrong. You are an idiot. My life happens to, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle. And it’s not just mine. Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they’re too busy with their own. The beautiful ones. The popular ones. The guys that pick on you. Everyone. If you could hear what they were feeling. The loneliness. The confusion. It looks quiet down there. It’s not. It’s deafening”-Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Everyone struggles. Everyone hurts. Everyone is busy fighting their own battles. Life is not an easy task for anyone and it’s easy to get caught up in the belief that you are alone in your pain. But everyone has their inner demons. Your struggles are valid. My struggles are valid. Everybody’s struggle are valid. If we all just helped each other, instead of trying to battle our problems alone, the world would be a much better place. We all matter. I think it would be best to end this with a direct quote from Ben Platt. “The things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful”

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