“Dear Evan Hansen” arrives at Bass Concert Hall
The room opens to a dark stage with a bed, a laptop and a lamp. Behind this set scrolls a cascade of endless news feeds – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – coupled with the incessant sounds of notification alerts. Cute but jarring, the noises are continuous until Evan Hansen takes the stage.
Hansen, played by Stephen Christopher Anthony, is a socially anxious teenager struggling with depression and disconnection. As an adaptation exercise, his therapist asks him to write a letter to himself: “Dear Evan Hansen, Today is going to be a great day, and here’s why …”
Evan’s letter is stolen by another struggling student, Connor Murphy, who then commits suicide. When Connor’s parents find Evan’s note in Connor’s pocket, they think it’s Connor’s suicide note. Although Evan barely knew Connor in life, he was unable to explain the truth to Connor’s parents, which led him to make up the story of a friendship with Connor.
As the play runs its course, this fictitious friendship spirals out of control. We witness Evan’s struggles to connect with himself and with the world beyond his computer screen. The constantly updated news feed projections underscore how isolated people can become, even in a world of hyperconnectivity.
“Dear Evan Hansen” explores the concepts of abandonment, loneliness and friendship with a sincerity and candor that will accompany you for years to come. Anthony, who plays Evan, draws us in with his relatable ramblings, then holds us captive with the raw emotion of his singing voice.
It’s a show about coming together when you feel like no one is listening. It is about hope, mourning, loss and forgiveness. Perfect for the holiday season, “Dear Evan Hansen” reminds us that while life can get stressful and hectic, we can take time to reconnect.
“Dear Evan Hansen” performs at Bass Concert Hall in Austin this weekend, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 7 p.m. Tickets start at $ 30 and are available at Broadway in the Austin website, Texas Performing Arts website, the Bass Concert Hall box office, all Texas Box Office outlets, and by phone at 512-477-6060.