Dear Evan Hansen is a musical by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, and Steven Levenson, first performed in July 2015. I first heard about it this year; in all my web-surfing it seemed to appear more than once, along with young people singing its praises and sharing how it had even saved some of their lives. Naturally, it piqued my interest. We watched Sound of Music several times as kids — but that’s it — so musicals have never been the most important part of my life. Though I haven’t watched many, I do love them.
Living in a country that doesn’t have access to musicals as frequently as the West does, and having no real equivalent to Broadway or the West End, musicals come to India in the form of movies. I’ve seen a live performance of The Lion King in London once when I was about twelve. Hearing about the magnificence of Hamilton and now Dear Evan Hansen is quite a frustrating experience because the likelihood of me seeing either is very low. However, what I have managed to do is listen to parts of the soundtracks.
In comparison to the soundtrack for Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen is short and sweet. I read up on the plot to have a fuller idea of what was going on behind the songs. Briefly, Dear Evan Hansen concerns the life of a socially awkward and anxious teen and shows how his life changes when he decides to manufacture a friendship with a classmate who recently committed suicide. I won’t spoil it any further, but I urge anyone who is interested to read about it, listen to the soundtrack, or, if possible, go watch it.
The song that struck me in particular is called “Waving Through a Window,” and the version I listen to is sung by Ben Platt, who plays Evan Hansen. This song is the reason I’m writing this piece. It is light and uplifting, and a few of my friends remarked that it sounded like a Disney song. This contrasts the heavier meaning to the lyrics as it deals with issues of loneliness and isolation. The musical itself deals with the relatable tribulations of high school, relationships, friendships, parenting, and the widening prevalence of mental health issues amongst teenagers, especially those that go unnoticed. “Waving Through a Window” feels like an anthem for our generation, and I personally connected with it enough to listen to it on repeat and not find any decrease in the effect the lyrics and music had on me.
Evidently, this is an incomplete review of the musical since I haven’t seen it; but, on the other hand, it’s an opportunity for me to share a piece of art that I think is important to be shared. The further along we get, the more I hear of plays, music, and books dealing with mental health issues, and I couldn’t be prouder that we’re slowly defeating the stigma against it. Dear Evan Hansen may not be your cup of tea, but the message is important nonetheless.