DENVER (CBS4) – “Dear Evan Hansen” is a modern musical about life as a teenager in the digital age. There is a letter that was never meant to be seen, and a lie that never should have been told, and a teenager who goes from being an outcast to finally fitting in. “Dear Evan Hansen” is playing at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts from September 25 – October 13.
The tour production of “Dear Evan Hansen” features a new cast, who’ve worked hard to capture the emotional range of the musical. Ben Levi Ross takes on the roll of “Evan Hansen”, and he hopes the audience gets a sense of comfort and hope.
“I think the journey is one of not only self-acceptance, but just an ability to remain level headed. He goes through the best of times and the worst of times, only to allow him to get to a place of semi-peace,” Levi Ross told CBS4.
Denver audiences may recognized the actress who plays “Cynthia Murphy.” Christiane Noll originated the role of “Emma” in “Jekyll and Hyde.” Noll couldn’t be more excited to bring “Dear Evan Hansen to the Denver stage.
“It’s dealing with an incredible subject matter, that has to do with people’s desire to connect with each other, within families, within our community. And sometimes we’re able to and sometimes we miss each other entirely,” Noll told CBS4.
“Dear Evan Hansen” won six Tony Awards, and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. It all started as a college project.
“It was the kind of thing that we didn’t think anyone would give us permission to write. It’s not your typical musical story, and it doesn’t have the typical kind of sound, necessarily, of a lot of other Broadway shows, but we were excited about it,” said Benj Pasek, one of the songwriters of the show.
Justin Paul & Benj Pasek, songwriters (credit CBS)
Both songwriters said that the show started from a very cynical place. It starts with a tragedy, but then grows into a story of hope and healing.
“A story about a young man and a family, and sort of how their circumstances put them in this place where they’re in need of healing,” said songwriter, Justin Paul.
The show is set in modern times which means that social media plays an important role in the story.
“When a tragedy does strike, people feel the need to be apart of it. And we wanted to get to the root of that. And I think, we were really interested in exploring how social media had made us, as a society, more isolated, and seemingly more lonely than ever. But then at the same time, there is the opportunity for real community and real connectivity,” Pasek told CBS4.
“Dear Evan Hansen” centers around a tragedy, and then follows how all the characters react. It takes it’s audiences on an emotional journey.
“I expect and I hope, really, that they walk out with a renewed sense of empathy, and understanding. I think the journey that Evan goes on in the musical, and really all the characters go on, is one of healing and self-understanding. It’s obviously a torturous path they all go down,” said Steven Levenson, the writer of the book for “Dear Evan Hansen.”
The musical is designed to be funny, and dark all at the same time, but in the end audiences are supposed to feel that the characters are going to be okay.