This past Tuesday I returned to DPAC for opening night of Dear Evan Hansen. This wonderful touring production of the Broadway musical tells the story of a textbook loner Evan Hansen. Evan is an anxious and shy high school senior that gets caught up in a social media-fueled frenzy of grieving and good intentions after a classmate takes his own life.
As embodied with quirky and twitchy interest by actor Anthony Norman, Evan Hansen is mostly overlooked by his classmates as he struggles to connect with them socially and goes to therapy to help him break out of his shell. Part of this process involves him writing self-affirmation letters to himself
A school hallway encounter with the angry and somewhat bully-like Connor Murphy (Nikhil Saboo) turns mildly violent, but later, in a moment of uncharacteristic kindness, Connor agrees to sign Evan’s cast. But in the process finds one of Connor’s therapy letters that mentions his sister and storms off with the letter in hand.
The very next day the the school community learns that Connor has taken his own life. Connor’s family finds the letter and assumes their son had written it to Evan, a misunderstanding that Evan quickly embraces once he sees how much it comforts Connor’s parents and sister Zoe (Alaina Anderson), whose affection he is seeking.
The rest of the story hinges on the fallout from this misdirection and confused identities as the truth finally comes to light as Evan’s series of lies and deceptions spiral out of control, and force Evan to examine his own motivations.
This production is helmed by a wonderful cast using a smart and simple set to tell the story about how we all struggle with “being seen”, friendship and navigating society and trending social media in this complicated digital age.
‘Dear Evan Hansen’ performs at the Durham Performing Arts Center through this Sunday, November 6th. For tickets and more information visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/dear-evan-hansen-2022.