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“Dear Evan Hansen” gives insight into teen struggles (Spoilers)

January 14, 2022

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

TW: Suicide

I was fortunate enough to attend “Dear Evan Hansen” at the Orpheum Theater over winter break. Walking into the theater, I was fully unaware of the plot and the content of the musical. All I knew was that there would be a character by the name of Evan Hansen, and perhaps some sort of letter involved. What I did not expect was the plethora of difficult topics the musical covered.

I usually don’t enjoy musicals, and falling asleep when I am unamused is a common characteristic of mine. It’s not that I try to fall asleep, it usually just happens. But with “Dear Evan Hansen”, not a moment went by during the two-hour show did I feel myself moving toward sleep. I was fully captivated by the quality of each and every actor.  

Stephen Christopher Anthony did a phenomenal job portraying the character of Evan Hansen. Hansen is supposed to be a socially anxious and stressed high school student, and Anthony was able to bring these character elements to life. I was truly able to connect with his emotions concerning the high school years and his struggles with building friendships. I was especially able to relate to the hundreds of college scholarships his mom placed in front of him to fill out. His sense of humor came across well, and the audience was able to join in my laughter quite often.  

Stephanie La Rochelle also portrayed her character, Zoe Murphy, incredibly well. Even though I am an only child, I found myself relating to her place as a sister who had just lost her brother whom she did not particularly like. She was able to bring to life the internal conflict of whether she should mourn his loss or move on with her life.  

As a high school senior, the plot of the story resonated with me deeply. The running theme of social media suffocating teenagers’ lives is certainly a timely topic, and this musical helped me to re-realize the harm that being so connected digitally can have on individuals. It was also a needed wake up call to the struggles that teenagers are going through with anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Even though I have not dealt with losing someone close to me to suicide, I know multiple people who have, and “Dear Evan Hansen” certainly puts everything into perspective.  

The message I took away from the show is this: Life is hard. Life can be really, really hard. But there will always be support systems for us to utilize. I may not fully understand what somebody else is going through, and they may not understand what I am going through, but full understanding is not necessary. I can simply be a shoulder to cry on, two arms to offer a hug, or a smile to help someone feel a little bit better. While small efforts such as these may seem meaningless, they could change the trajectory of someone’s life, and perhaps encourage them to keep on living. 

“Dear Evan Hansen” is a deeply emotional musical, but I recommend people of all ages to see it live given the chance. Through its moments of discomfort, viewers may end up finding comfort within the various meanings. Through its message on divide, this show undoubtedly has the power to bring people together. 

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