Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My Thoughts on "Dear Evan Hansen."

Dear Evan Hansen is a musical about a high-school boy with severe social anxiety. A boy who loses a classmate to suicide. A boy who tells a lie and finds himself lost in the turmoil of that lie.

I first heard of DEH some months ago. Since I thought it was about suicide and that is a topic that usually gets glorified or white-wash suicide, I was a little wary of it. But I looked it the album and quite liked it. So on a whim I found the bootleg online and watched it.

It turns out today wasn't a great day....

It was good. I understand why so many people love it. It has themes that most people relate to on several levels. Loneliness, depression, anxiety, emptiness, fear, isolation, you name it. All that stuff. There aren't many musicals with a Teen as the lead, so for teenagers to finally have characters their age on Broadway is a big deal. Especially such a relatable teen.
I surprise myself by liking the story as much as I did. It had a good message about hope. About accepting yourself, flaws and all, about hanging on even when you feel like letting go. I think that's an important message for young people to hear, especially in these troubling times.

I quite like Evan. He was sweet, awkward, and thoughtful. But he was also human with flaws; Like, being an opportunist and a liar. I liked that the writers didn't make his anxiety or insecurity into an excuse for his bad decisions. It wasn't like, "He has social anxiety and low self-esteem, so he couldn't help needing a family or making stupid, damaging choices in order to get it." They acknowledged that he was in the wrong, even if his intentions were good. He hurt people and that wasn't right. Even if he just wanted to be loved or accepted or whatever. I liked that little message because so often people say "I couldn't help doing such-and-such a thing it just had to be that way." Um, no. There is always a choice in these matters. It's important for people to know that just because you're suffering, have mental issues, or are living in bad circumstances, it doesn't mean have free reign to do bad, or potentially harmful things to yourself or those around you.

"I try to speak but nobody can hear."

The soundtrack was good. It wasn't staggering like Secret Garden or A Tale of Two Cities, but it was still full of amazing lyrics, melodies, and emotional moments. It definitely had it's own sound which was nice. It was unique, different, and boldly NOT like every other musical out there. (Is it just me or do a lot of musicals have that generic "Broadway" sound to them? Kind of annoying...)  The only song I didn't care for was Sincerely Me. Evan's "friend" has a dirty little mind and says inappropriate things, making it awkward for everyone. So I just skip that song. 8-D It's not all that important.

The cast was great. I loved Ben Platt as Evan, though I sometimes thought he got a little loud. But since it was a more modern score, meant to sound 'in the times' the power in the cast and the music didn't bother me. It fit the story. It was a little bit like Ghost in regard to sound and feel. It's not like the musicals I usually collect, but I'd like to own it and would certainly recommend it to anyone who likes musical theatre. The characters were good aside from Jared (whom I really didn't like, to be honest.) They all had things I could empathize with. Especially Zoe. I loved Zoe's character. I would like to play her someday. She is such a forgotten sort of girl with quite the load of emotional baggage. My heart went out to Zoe, especially during the song "Requiem." She's had it rough, poor thing.  Her relationship with Connor was a bad one. I'm not sure how bad he was since we don't get to seem them interact that much, but it was bad enough. Like, he sounds kind of abusive. (AND THEY DON'T EXCUSE THAT!)

The suicide element was tough, but I thought they handled it as well as can be expected. I definitely appreciated it more than 13 Reasons Why, simply because instead of Connor striking out for revenge he just snapped one night. And yeah, I hate that it happened and I hate that Connor would do something like that, but it handled the topic better than 13 Reasons Why. It gave the same message in a healthier, more powerful way.

I felt Connor's story was more sympathetic. Like, maybe if he had someone, if he'd reached out, things could have been different. He could have chosen hope. He was still wrong and I still hate it but his death was sadder. And the script was discreet enough that you can't be sure about Connor's state of mind or intention. In Evan Hansen's first performances there was a song - later cut from the Broadway edition- that talked about "missing pills and a missing kid..." And since Connor had a problem with drugs and getting high, there is a fair chance he didn't mean to kill himself. He just felt like crap and accidentally went too far. There's also a chance he wasn't stable enough to make a choice like that with his full understanding or will, since he apparently struggled with mental problems. As a Catholic I personally found that positive, because if it wasn't premeditated and if Connor was mentally ill, than his soul has a chance.

And yes, I get too invested in fictional people. 8-P

If only they'd found each other sooner. Maybe they could have helped each other....

Something else I liked about this show is when Evan went to adults for help, he actually got help! AND THAT IS A POSITIVE THING! Kids need to know they're going to get support from the people above and around them. They need to know that when they talk about mental issues, anxiety, depression, fear, abuse, and so forth, they're going to have support from people around them. And even if people don't listen at first, even if you are alone, that doesn't mean you will always be alone. That's important. That's something I was exploring in my own musical before I even listened to DEH. Like, don't give up on the future!!! Even if you're broken, lonely, scared, lost, forgotten, that doesn't mean you will always be that way. Just because you're alone right now, that doesn't mean you won't ever have anything in the future. It doesn't mean you won't someday have better friends, a better home, better circumstances, a better life. There is every possibility that you will have all those things and more. There's always reason to hope.*

*At the very least you can hope for heaven. :-)

The one word of warning I would give is that the fan-base (especially on Tumblr) is pretty kinky. You get a lot of sexual, dirty thoughts in regard to the story and characters in it. Kind of like Johnlock fans. *hides face* The musical itself is clean and has very little to frown at besides Jared, but the fans can be seriously dirty and inappropriate. Obviously there are nice, normal fans too, who are like, "No, Evan is straight..." but just heads up.  8-D It's like any other fandom out there, you have weird fans.

If you like Musical Theatre and emotional stories, I would definitely recommend this musical. I believe you can watch it somewhere online, but if you don't feel safe going on weird sites, the full album is on youtube, complete with Dialogue 8-)

So let the sun come streaming in, cause you'll reach up and you'll rise again!

*swings around cape and leaps off stage laughing*


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful review! You made it flow very well, and I like how you touched on so many important topics!

    Well, now I'm definitely interested in this musical. I hate, hate, hate it when people use abuse, hard backstory, whatever as an excuse for bad behavior. It's makes things harder, yes. But it's never an excuse.

    (The more musicals from the last 10 years or so that I listen to, the more I see what you mean about the "modern" sound. Even if the musical is supposed to be a period piece. Obviously, TTC and Jane Eyre are exceptions. :-) Well, and Jekyll & Hyde and Secret Garden, though they were done back in the early 90s.)

    Thank you for the song disclaimer. It helps to know where to skip! :-)

    And oh, how wonderful that adults are actually helpful!! I suddenly wonder how many stories gave kids the idea that adults are useless...wonder how many stories may have helped to divide families by making kids think they're on they're own. *ponders*

    Anyway, great review! I enjoyed reading this!


Oi, what are you.... Oh, you just want to comment? Then that's fine, please do! I love comments! but, um, I sort of stalk them.

Pile of good things

Pile of good things