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2017 Kane County Chronicle Best of the Fox

The Write Place: 'Dear Evan Hansen' features music with a message

Published: Thursday, March 16, 2017 11:42 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 20, 2017 4:14 p.m. CDT

This musical surpassed everyone’s expectations by breaking box office records and selling incredible amounts of tickets. Its cast album reached the Billboard Top 10, something only a few shows in history have done. It has received rave reviews from both professional critics and ordinary theatre-goers.

And guess what? It’s not "Hamilton."

That’s right, there’s another hit musical on Broadway—one called "Dear Evan Hansen" that has already seen "Hamilton"-level impact. While I try to vary my columns so I’m not solely gushing about theater, I feel like this production deserves some adulation, so bear with me— perhaps you’ll fall in love with it as well.

"Dear Evan Hansen" revolves around a teen boy named Evan who struggles to balance his extreme social anxiety with the difficulties he faces as the son of a single mother at home. When a classmate and fellow loner named Connor commits suicide, Evan decides to take action and spread a message of kindness and acceptance around his school. In doing so, he gains the friends, popularity and even family that he always wanted. Yet Evan also finds himself tangled in a lie that is intensified by social media, and the devastating repercussions cause him to question himself and the world he lives in.

What makes "Dear Evan Hansen" so unique and resonant is its relatability to today’s world. Many of the issues addressed in the show, such as mental health, family problems and social media, are deeply personal for audience members, and the impeccable portrayal of such issues by the cast truly tugs on the heartstrings. With no offense to "Phantom of the Opera" or"The Lion King," most of us just can’t relate to being haunted by a deformed composer or becoming ruler of an animal kingdom. However, every single one of us has dealt with feelings of loneliness and a desire to be accepted, which "Dear Evan Hansen" depicts throughout the entire show. I think there is a little bit of Evan in each of us, which makes the musical that much more compelling.

I have yet to see the show live, as it is currently being performed solely in New York City. However, that doesn’t mean that the soundtrack and storyline have made any less of an impact on me — tears were legitimately streaming down my face the first time I heard some of the songs, and the show has made me more aware of the isolation others may feel and what I can do to help. I hope I get the chance to experience the music and message live someday.

The chorus of the song “Disappear” from the show’s first act goes like this: “No one deserves to be forgotten, no one deserves to fade away. No one should flicker out or have any doubt that it matters that they are here. No one deserves to disappear.” Because of "Dear Evan Hansen," millions of people have been reminded of this truth, and it just goes to show the power that one musical can have on someone’s emotions and worldview. So go listen to the cast recording (I recommend having tissues handy), read more about the plot and if you ever get the opportunity to see this show, take it (and take me with you please!). I hope that Evan’s story continues to encourage and inspire audiences for many performances to come.

Emma Chrusciel is a junior at Geneva High School. In addition to writing, she loves Broadway musicals, playing piano and spending time with her family and friends. Her column runs every other Thursday. Contact her at

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