Dear Evan Hansen: Today is Going to be a Good Day and Here’s Why

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Dear Evan Hansen: Today is Going to be a Good Day and Here’s Why

Madison Castello, Staff Writer

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Dear Evan Hansen was entirely breathtaking and try as I may, I cannot find the proper words to express how stunning this musical was. With complex characters all struggling through different problems, it was easy to connect with their arduous experiences.  This musical directly addressed several of society’s current issues such as mental illness, divorce, suicide, depression, social anxiety, and several other touchy topics that tend to be ignored when they need to be brought into the light. And that’s exactly what this performance did. It showed the audience that having any experience with these issues isn’t a rarity or is not something to be ashamed of, but rather a common pain that we can all connect with.

The show starts with the main character, Evan Hansen, as he writes a therapeutic letter to himself, listing all the reasons why today is going to be a good day; hence the title of the production Dear Evan Hansen. After a song sung by his mother about the hardships of raising and connecting with her troubled teenager, Evan heads to school running into Zoey Murphy, whom he has a crush on, and her older brother Connor Murphy, also known as the depressed school bully who accidentally grabs Evan’s letter. Later that week, Connor Murphy is found dead, having committed suicide. The only thing with him is Evan’s therapeutic letter, which he had stolen earlier. Naturally, the Murphy’s assume they were close friends and that their son wrote his last words in a suicide note to Evan. Meanwhile, Evan Hansen keeps up with the lie seeing it as an opportunity to come out of his shell and get closer to his crush, Zoey Murphy.

Evan Hansen continues to fabricate this intricate lie by writing old emails between the two and claiming they met secretly outside of school, as an attempt to explain why the families never saw them together. The Murphy’s have trouble accepting this blatant lie, but it was easier than the truth; that Connor really had no friends. After being encouraged by Zoey and her family, Evan founds The Connor Project, an organization dedicated to raising money for Connor’s memorial and to raise suicide awareness. Evan even gives a public speech at his school, directly facing his fear of social situations and public speaking. This speech has a rocky beginning as Evan fumbles with his words and note cards, yet he pulls himself together with an inspiring message. The speech was recorded and posted online, where it became an internet sensation, gaining thousands of followers for The Connor Project.

Yet in order to maintain the deception, Evan abuses his friendship with the hilariously quirky, Jared Kleinman, using him only as an accomplice when backdating emails that Evan and Connor had supposedly written together. Jared may have put up a class clown type of facade, but underneath he was just as insecure as Evan Hansen.

Not only does Evan tear down Jared’s confidence and trust in his friend, but he also insults the school’s perfectionist, Alana Beck, who is Evan’s co-president of The Connor Project. She questions the facts behind his false friendship causing Evan to panic and insult Alana’s priorities. Yes, Alana is an overachiever, seeming to only be invested in college opportunities, yet underneath her extroverted appearance she feels just as invisible as Evan and participates in every school activity to disguise it.

All throughout the musical, Evan assumed he was the only one struggling, but he was as blind to other people’s problems just as they were to his. Everyone has felt invisible and insecure at some point or another, but it’s important to remember that we are not alone. None of us are.

Needless to say, Evan’s lies are eventually revealed and the community finally knows that the two boys were never even friends and hardly spoke at all despite Evan’s deceiving stories. Yet, here is the twist that most would not expect in a musical: there is no storybook happy ending. While the Murphy parents don’t expose Evan for his lies, they never reconnect with him. Zoey Murphy speaks with Evan at the very end at Connor’s memorial, but they don’t have that fairytale kiss and they actually part ways as hardly even acquaintances. Evan still has his crippling anxiety and is attending a community college, despite all of his vivid dreams for a better life. It is never revealed whether or not he repaired his damaged relationships with Jared, the comic relief, or Alana, the overworked perfectionist, but we can assume they all moved on after graduating high school. While this closure may seem awful and somewhat depressing to some, I found it to be a perfect representation for what the show stood for. This musical was about real life issues, so why wouldn’t it have a real-life ending?

After thoroughly covering the production’s plot, it’s time to discuss the songs, which were absolutely phenomenal. The playlist begins with Evan’s mom, dealing with her son’s anxiety and her busy workday, and Connor and Zoey’s mom, struggling with her chaotic family. The song, “Anybody Have a Map” describes the two mothers’ hardships when trying to connect with their children. The following song illustrates Evan Hansen’s own endeavors to relate with his peers and to find a place for himself in the school with the song “Waving Through a Window.” Here, Evan admits to his insecurities and difficulties connecting with those around him, as he often feels unnoticed and invisible. In this next song, Evan’s life flips upside down as Connor’s parents come to him with questions about the letter, even inviting him over to dinner for a full explanation. Instead of revealing the truth, Evan Hansen creates his ideal friendship in “For Forever”, where he outlines a falsely close relationship with their dead son. Now, having to follow through with this lie, Evan and his friend Jared backdate the emails Evan and Connor supposedly sent to one another in a hilariously upbeat song “Sincerely Me.” The production continues with “Requiem” and “If I Could Tell Her” as Evan contentedly finds a sense of belonging with the Murphy family. Next is “Disappear” where Evan, Alana, and Jared kick start The Connor Project as Evan Hansen prepares for his terrifying speech in the last song of Act 1. This last song is easily the most popular and well known, as “You Will Be Found” perfectly embodies the musical’s overall message of acceptance as Evan braves his greatest fear in order to unite the community over Connor’s death. This song is one of my personal favorites, as it connects the audience under the common knowledge that while we might feel lonely and detached from those around us, we are ultimately not alone.

The second act commences with the songs “To Break in a Glove” and “Only Us” as Evan grows closer to the Murphy’s. Yet the uplifting musical takes a sudden turn in “Good For You” and “Words Fail” as Evan reveals the truth behind his multitude of lies, insults his hardworking mother, and breaks his only friendships. On a more positive note, the production ends with the emotional song “So Big/So Small” and the “Finale,” where Evan’s mom and Zoey Murphy tell him that despite everything that has happened, life will resume and continue to get better.

Although Dear Evan Hansen certainly has its ups and downs, the overall themes pay tribute to largely unnoticed issues in society while providing uplifting hope for those in need of it. When watching this production, one will begin to understand that while their troubles may seem life-consuming now, things will improve. We may feel as if we are alone in this huge world, but there are others who feel the same way and will be there to pick you up off the ground. When times seem tough and things get desperate, we need to stop and consider all the positive aspects of life because after all: today is going to be a good day, and here’s why…

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