Performing on Broadway is akin to reaching the pinnacle of one's profession. People make it there by following the lead of others, rarely reinventing the wheel. "Dear Evan Hansen" has a traditional narrative told in an unconventional way, making it one of the more refreshing, if sometimes scattered shows in recent memory.

About the show

After opening in Washington D.C. in July 2015 and having a stint Off-Broadway in New York City, "Dear Evan Hansen" reached the Broadway stage on December 4, 2016. The music is written by the team of Pasek and Paul, with a book by Steven Levenson.

Evan Hansen is a teenage boy looking to overcome his issues of social and general anxiety by writing letters to himself.

One of his letters ends up on the body of a peer who took his life, leading the family to believe it was a suicide note addressed to Evan. Rather than fess up to the truth, Evan plays along, sensing his chance to finally belong in the world.

Unique performances, staging

The star of the show is Ben Platt, who is in his second Broadway production, this time as Evan Hansen. His awkwardness is sometimes challenging to watch, but his endearing attitude is what the show pivots on. If he's unlikable (which he should be due to his heinous actions), then the show is unbearable. Additionally, the vocal control Platt has to have little tics while singing is one of the most impressive things on the stage right now.

The other performances in the show are extremely solid.

The cast is small, but each member plays their part to the letter. Some particularly affecting performances are those of Jennifer Laura Thompson as Cynthia Murphy and Laura Dreyfuss as Zoe Murphy, a love interest for Evan.

The songs are emotional, if not entirely original, taking on many of the harmonic and lyrical themes of shows with similar premises, from an emotion standpoint if not a literal standpoint.

Many of the songs also sound similar to one another, leaving the Broadway spectacle without a true standout.

The staging of the orchestra adds a nice touch, though. They are lofted above the stage, visible to the audience. It doesn't make a difference in the sound, but it brings a nice feeling of intimacy to the show.

The set design also has a unique, modern flair to it.

There are screens and projections readily available and utilized on stage for certain moments, but minimalist blocking takes place outside of that, with action taking place in a rather static manner, reflective of immobilized tendencies of Evan.

Concluding thoughts

Speaking of which, it isn't often to see a Broadway performance incorporating elements off-stage into the show. "Dear Evan Hansen" does that in a really effective way, showing the power of social media and the power of the Internet, both in its capacity to do good and evil.

"Dear Evan Hansen" doesn't fall in line with the typical Broadway spectacle, but it doesn't have to in its quest to move mountains and evoke feelings in the most unique way imaginable.

Rating: A-

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