Dear Evan Hansen: The Movie was Rather Disappointing
The Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen”, originally published as a book in July 2015, has now entered the big screen, allowing for an entirely new wave of individuals to discover the musical 6 years later, but was this actually a good idea?
The Tony Award winning Best Musical in 2017 sheds light on hard topics that millions of people still struggle with daily—primarily suicide. Referencing The Trevor Project, Evan Hansen creates The Connor Project after classmate and alleged best friend, Connor Murphy, commits suicide. I have been listening to this musical since 2017, and read the script a few years ago since I was never able to watch it on Broadway, so my initial reaction to the musical becoming a movie was exuberancy. I could not wait for it to come out and get the recognition and appreciation it deserved.
The first controversy that came up after the trailers came out was the casting of Ben Platt. Ben Platt is a singer songwriter and actor who was in the original Broadway cast for “Dear Evan Hansen”. The controversy here is the fact that Platt is 28 years old, casted as a senior in high school. With Platt already having recognition, this role could have given a rising musical theatre persona an opportunity to get their name out there who might have a more of a highschool senior look. However, being an original cast member brought more of a connection to the musical, and drew more attention from people who had already grown to love Platt from the Broadway cast. Both sides are valid, but I particularly lean towards the benefits from casting Platt, because as much as another rising artist deserves attention, Ben Platt also deserves all of the success and recognition that he can get. What he does not deserve is the TikTok slander from people who are not aware of the background on the musical, and are simply making fun of Platt for being old.
When it comes to the actual production of the movie, I personally would not highly recommend it to individuals who aren’t fans of musicals. Usually, when a musical is converted into a movie, it is rather upbeat and whenever there is a scene that is purely song, there is dancing or an entertaining element for basic movie goers. Since “Dear Evan Hansen” is a rather depressing musical, a lot of the scenes that go from regular discussion to singing are awkward and almost laughable. It has been seen in a lot of recent productions that the movies feel more rushed and not thought out correctly. I would assume it is due to the fast filming, planning, and editing of the movies because of Covid-19, and sadly, “Dear Evan Hansen” has this feeling.
Being a two hour long movie with a beautiful and desperately needed message, the execution of such a topic needs to be put out almost perfectly for people to resonate and discuss with people outside of the “Dear Evan Hansen” bubble. With that being said, I feel that the producers could have honestly done a better job with the movie version. Nonetheless, I enjoyed watching the movie. The theater felt very connected—laughing at the same moments, crying, intensely watching—it was a great experience. Moreover, all of those experiences can be felt through watching the actual musical, which is much more expensive and harder to do, but I feel that it is worth it to gain the true message and leave the theatre with an experience you will never forget.