REVIEW: DEAR EVAN HANSEN Hits Philly Right in the Feels

I, chuckling in large groups like “Sincerely, Me”, it captivates you but dancing is used sporadically and, typically, only for enjoyment – the choreography from Danny Mefford isn’t the main focus. Suddenly, the stage transforms from a bedroom to an arena and vice versa thanks to rapid scene changes facilitated by Japhy Weideman’s impressive lighting scheme, clever scenic design by David Korins, and guidance from Michael Grief. Steve Levenson’s script punches you with a blend of humor and anxiety, and its narrative thread is tightly woven enough to make a harp turn red. The Tony Award-winning show revolves around Evan, the unstoppable force. Evan, the Tony Award-winning show, is a force to be reckoned with. Steve Levenson’s script delivers a knockout punch of humor and anxiety, and its narrative thread is strong enough to make a harp blush. Michael Grief’s direction, David Korins’ intelligent scenic design, and Japhy Weideman’s powerful lighting scheme allow for lightning-fast scene transitions as the stage swiftly changes from a bedroom to an arena and back. Although dance is not the main focus and is used sparingly for enjoyment, the choreography from Danny Mefford still manages to make you laugh in group numbers like “Sincerely, Me”.

The Wednesday night crowd buzzed and sniffled as applause thundered. Don’t miss the big moments of the show, as the character Norman (played by Anthony Anderson) and Zoe (played by Alaina Murphy) come together in forceful and dramatic scenes. The touring cast includes Alaina Murphy making her debut in the role. The show explores deep-cut themes of loneliness and estrangement, making you feel like you’re experiencing a drug withdrawal until the closest connections are supposed to be the craziest things you’ll do.

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Evan, who is troubled by his crush on Zoe and the pressure to live up to his parents’ expectations, finds solace in a note from Connor Murphy, Zoe’s brother. However, things quickly go wrong as Evan agrees to write letters to himself, leaning into his quirky, anxiety-garnished persona. With a clinical dose of high school senior anxiety, Evan writes reminders about his psychologist’s assignment, questions about his medication, and pep talks about making new friends. The scene fluidly shifts between Evan’s interactions with his psychologist, Heidi’s mom (Sexton Coleen), and his arm in a cast, which constantly jitters with anxiety. The stage cleverly incorporates pop-up screens and projected phone feeds onto the titular character’s bedroom, creating a constant and captivating presence.

Obviously, in order to give their dear friend Alana a chance to step out on behalf of invisibility, the purportedly memorializing Project Connor helps Evan and Queen of resume-stacking projects create a way to what they need. With the help of his kinda-sorta-friend Jared, the teen behind the Macbook played by the maniacally horny Laucerica David Pablo, Evan fakes a series of email exchanges with Conner, cackling with zeal. Through family dinners and life lessons about breaking baseball gloves, Evan extends himself to him, caught in his own imagination and fabricating an increasingly elaborate history of friendship to help console the chronically lonely Evan. Cynthia and Larry, played here by Thomas Lili and John Hemphill, are Connor’s parents who love him as well as the companionship that Evan tries to make sense of their loss and pluck good memories from a basket of bad ones, as the family’s sense of the As.

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Evan doesn’t have any heroes, just people looking for connection in a world gone sideways. Stay for the heartwrenching moments that unfold across the dinner table, worth catching when the American North Tour hits your city, and come to this show for the songs that show you.

Tickets for the performance of Evan Hansen Dear, running at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia until August 28th, can be purchased at the box office of the Theatre Forrest or by calling 212-239-6200, or online at www.Telecharge.Com. There is a limited number of available tickets, so they will be distributed through a lottery system.

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