Beloved Musical “Dear Evan Hansen” Leaves Broadway

“When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around. Do you ever really crash or even make a sound?” This lyric from the Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen” summarizes a main theme in the production: how can one be seen and heard when feeling invisible and insignificant?

With music by Justin Paul and Benji Pasek — the songwriting duo that brought the stories of “La La Land” and “The Greatest Showman” to life — and directed by Michael Greif, who won four Tony awards for his work in “RENT,” this musical was bound to succeed.

Sidwell students who saw the musical left glowing reviews.

“It’s heartwarming and has a good message. It makes you think,” senior Maggie Gray reflected.

It’s heartwarming and has a good message. It makes you think.

— Maggie Gray '23

Junior Olivia Dietrich added, “The musical was really heartbreaking and moving. Its message about bullying, mental health, and feelings of loneliness were authentic and relevant.”

“The most important part of the musical for me was the way they presented issues around mental health and the idea that nobody is alone,” Dietrich continued.

The musical follows socially anxious teenager Evan Hansen as he navigates the death of a classmate, Connor Murphy. The audience learns that Hansen was much less involved with Murphy than his parents believe, yet throughout the musical, Hansen develops a relationship with the Murphy family. Hansen begins to inspire others around him with false details of who Murphy was, and his relationship with him.

The musical tries “to empathize with what in a person makes them feel that they need to insert themselves in a tragedy,” said Pasek in an interview with Theater Talk Archive.

After leaving its initial home at Arena Stage in Washington in 2015, the production moved to the off-Broadway Second Theater Stage in Manhattan in 2016. Later that year, the musical moved to two different Broadway stages before landing at its current home in The Music Box Theatre in Chicago. Actor Ben Platt, who played Evan in all three cities, left the show in 2017 after taping the show’s original cast recording.

Like many new and soaring Broadway musicals, “Dear Evan Hansen” achieved pre-pandemic success, but never fully recovered from Broadway closures or regained its 2015 momentum. Controversy surrounding the show’s ending, coupled with a lack of mainstream attention and a failed film adaptation, left ticket sales unable to support the musical’s production. Both the Broadway and West End productions are coming to a close later this fall, with The North American Tour being the only official production still active. Although the show is nearing the end of its 1,678-show run, the musical has been highly successful overall, winning six Tony Awards and touching the lives of many.