With a book by Steven Levenson,
music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul,
direction by Michael Greif
October 17 through November 25, 2018
Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, CA.
For tickets and information, please visit CenterTheatreGroup.org or call (213) 972-4400.
At last, one of my most anticipated musicals has arrived in Los Angeles. It has been Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen and as of this past Friday, I’ve seen them both. Hamilton talk aside – we all know about that one = I am pleased to say that DEH lives up to my expectations. It’s a heart-wrenching and funny show worthy of the praise and the fandom that it has earned.
Ben Levi Ross steps into the very large shoes of Tony-winning Ben Platt and he takes this role and runs with it. He definitely makes Evan his own and his performance is staggeringly good. The emotion, the humor, the songs; Ben takes it to heart and his performance is mesmerizing.
In fact, the entire cast is great. The material here is heavy but the humor saves it from being too much to take. It’s a testament to the cast that they can deftly handle both the comedic moments and the heavy dramatic elements. One stand out who really steals the show to be honest is Jared Goldsmith. He plays Evan’s “family friend,” Jared. He’s super funny and beyond charming. He is a scene stealer for sure.
Another stand out is Evan’s Mom Heidi played beautifully by Jessica Phillips. She has such a natural talent and her rendition of “So Big So Small“ completely wrecked me. I definitely got Idina Menzel vibes from Phillips and hope to see her in more shows in the future (including this one again!).
Not to ignore the rest of the cast, the ensemble is great. I enjoyed all of them.
Dear Evan Hansen at the Ahmanson Theatre
The set design is clever with screens detailing tweets, computer screens, cell phones, everything a modern high school student would be communicating on. It added a bit of a media layer to the story which really hit hard during the number “You Will Be Found”, which also nearly wrecked me.
The true stars here though are the songs. It’s hard to pick a favorite. Seeing them live is a completely different experience than listening to the album, and this cast really brings them to life and adds even more emotion to them.
I don’t want to spoil the plot or give too many details here: Dear Evan Hansen covers some heavy topics, not the least of which is loneliness and isolation and the need we all have to belong. I’m not sure I can think of another work of art that touches on these things in quite so relatable of a way. What Evan experiences is something we’ve all struggled with, some of you even as you read this.
If you get the opportunity to see the show here in Los Angeles please go. I can only hope that this show tours for a long time and as many eyes as possible to get see it. Whether with this supremely talented cast or another, Dear Evan Hansen is a show that really must be seen.
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Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.