Around 2015, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul wrote the music and lyrics for a new Broadway musical that became an instant success, winning 6 Tony awards including Best Actor and Best Musical. The show has since reached other parta of the world, including England, but I haven’t yet gotten a chance to see it. Instead, I’ve read the book and the movie, both inspired by the Broadway musical.
And I have to agree with the critics on this one, as the movie was not perfect. Ben Platt is just amazing and carries the entire movie, but there was something there missing and I don’t know exactly what. The best part about them adapting the musical into a movie is Ben Platt himself as this will probably be my only chance to see him in the role for which he won a Tony award.
Going back to the book, this being my first encounter with Evan Hansen, I knew the story was a sad one because it touches on the subject of suicide and mental health, but what I didn’t know was how much I was gonna relate to the main character. Evan is what I call a normal awkward teenager, but one that deals with a very strong social anxiety.
The story was adapted by Val Emmich onto a young adult novel that was published in 2018. I found the book a very good outlet for parents. To be able to read the feelings and thoughts of a teenager going through high school and being very insecure and anxious to an extent that it starts affecting their day to day life. I don’t have children yet, but this is going to be one of those books that will remind me to listen (truly listen) to them once I get to that stage in my life. I saw myself in both Connor and Evan, in how both their lives were pictured by Steven Levenson’s original book of the Dear Evan Hansen musical, from parents being more concentrated on their own issues and conflicts than their own children and/or how this would affect them, from getting bullied in school and in society in general, to just wanting to belong to something, to somebody.
Dear Evan Hansen,
Today is going to be an amazing day and here’s why. Because, today, all you have to do is be yourself. But also confident. That’s important. And interesting. Easy to talk to. Approachable. But mostly be yourself. That’s the big, that’s number one. Be yourself. Be true to yourself.
Dear Evan Hansen was also adapted into a movie, with Stephen Chbosky as a director and Steven Levenson as the screenwriter. Ben Platt reprises his role as Evan Hansen, leading the cast that is mainly formed of big Hollywood names like Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Nik Dodani, Colton Ryan, Danny Pino, Julianne Moore and Amy Adams. The movie is a bit too long especially given the fact that the subject at hand is heavy anyway, and the movie doesn’t have that balance of dramatic and comedy moments that the book offers and, from what I’ve read online, the same balance is found in the musical. The movie was released in September 2021 at the Toronto International Film Festival by Universal Pictures, but it wasn’t the success that everybody thought it was going to be. The Covid-19 pandemic played a big part in this, also bringing a closure to the Broadway and West End productions after this year.
There are a few differences between the play and the movie, as I’ve even noticed some between the book and the movie, but I won’t get into too much details on that front as I haven’t seen the musical, which was the original source for all of these other outlets that people have decided to use in order to bring Evan Hansen’s story to life.
For anybody struggling out there – you are not alone. You will be found.