{Out and About: Dear Evan Hansen}

I swear I don’t go out as much as this recent string of out and about posts would imply. Normally I’m just home binge-watching Netflix and working on sewing projects, but for whatever reason the next couple of weeks are full of shows. Currently, I’m in the middle of a six show Friday night streak, and I’m outlining them all here. This past Friday’s show was Dear Evan Hansen, the Tony-award winning Broadway musical. A co-worker of mine was nice enough to arrange a group rate, and I was able to take my mom to a show that is largely sold out these days.

This time around, I had no need to play my favorite game of “choose the restaurant.” The theater was close enough to one of my tried and true Times Square area favorites, Marseille. They specialize in French food, and being in the restaurant reminds me of being in a Paris bistro, and I appreciate that it’s not super touristy. I made a reservation and we were off.

Dinner was lovely, as usual. I was joined by my mom and partner-in-crime Sarah for cocktails and a three course meal. I, of course, had the steak frites because I can’t pass up steak and béarnaise sauce! Our cocktail of the evening was a Lillet Spritz. Appetizers of pate and fried calamari and a chocolate mousse for dessert rounded out the meal.

Then it was on to Dear Evan Hansen. I have to admit that it hasn’t really been on my “to see” list, but when the group rate presented itself, I thought it would be a fun way to spend the evening. It tells the story of Evan Hansen, a lonely high school student who gains popularity when another student, Connor Murphy, commits suicide and his parents mistakenly believe that he and Evan were friends. Evan goes with the mistake, partially because he is socially awkward and partially to make them feel better, and the story escalates from there.

And… if the people around me in the audience at the show were any indication, I was in the minority with my opinion off the show: it was just okay. Though I myself have a lot of social interaction issues, I found it difficult to relate to the story, particularly in the second act. I told my mom when the show ended that all I could think of was a Leslie Knope quote, and I couldn’t explain why: “The thing about youth culture is… I don’t get it.” I felt like there were a lot of different storylines going on and that none of them really got their full deserved attention at any point.

I will say that the actors were all amazing. As far as the original cast goes, we saw a couple of the originals (Connor’s parents, for instance, were the original actors), but for the most part there were replacements. Being as I had nothing to compare them to I enjoyed all of them, and they all told their respective parts of the story in the best way they could. And I did enjoy a lot of the music, I just had so much trouble connecting to the story.

Because I am in the minority when it comes to the storyline, I’m going to focus my review on something I did like: the costumes. Dear Evan Hansen takes place in modern day, and so the costumes were all clothes that you might see someone wearing on the street. I have great respect for this kind of costume design because, while it isn’t quite as fun as a period or fantasy piece, it’s very intricate. The designer still has to tell a story, and they need to do so with jeans and t-shirts and other mainstream clothing. The designer needs to create a style for each character, and that style needs to carry over for each outfit. Costume designer Emily Rebholz did this fantastically well. I believed that each item chosen for the characters would be in the same person’s closet. She also managed to convey their status and personality through their clothes.

The characters in Dear Evan Hansen are real people. They wear real clothes. They each have their own distinct personal touch on their look. I feel like Evan Hansen’s blue and white stripe polo shirts will be one of those costumes that goes down in Broadway history and is instantly recognizable as being from the show.

Perhaps I will need to do a little more study into the rest of the show to truly appreciate it.

Dear Evan Hansen is currently in an open run at the Music Box Theater.

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