A superb “Dear Evan Hansen” plays the Proctors – troyrecord

SCHENECTADY, ​​NY — The plot of “Dear Evan Hansen,” which is at the Proctors Theater until Sunday, can best be summed up by the quote, “What a tangled web we weave / When we first practice at to trick”.

In this touching and poignant musical, a high school student with social anxiety, on the advice of his therapist, writes self-affirmation letters to himself. They are all addressed to Dear Evan Hansen and signed “Me”. When drug-addicted school bully Connor Murphy takes it from him and soon after commits suicide, the letter is discovered among Conner’s possessions.

The assumption is that it was a suicide note written to Evan Hansen – which meant that Evan was the only person who cared about Connor.

At first, Evan’s lies are by omission. His goal is to console the Murphy family. Soon, he is reluctant to let go of his new found popularity. The web he has created becomes tangled as Evan actively engages in perpetuating the myth of his friendship with Connor and invents stories that make Connor a lonely and misunderstood youngster.

The deception also places him as a confidant of Connor’s sister Zoe, whom he has a romantic crush on.

Obviously, the work is filled with moral ambiguity. It is also loaded with anguish that it is difficult to shed light. Surprisingly, book author Steven Levenson keeps the story balanced by finding tasteful humor jockeying a young man involved in drugs, suicide and bullying contrasted by another with a need for acceptance and self esteem. Almost like magic, this seriously serious musical manages to entertain as well as provoke.

Music works the same way. The team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul incorporates beautiful music and sensitive lyrics that enhance the beautiful moments that exist in almost every scene. Although the score consists mostly of ballads, the music is never boring and always adds depth to the characters and the story. Added to the pleasures of the score is a cast filled with great, indeed remarkable, singing voices.

An incredibly good nine-piece orchestra led by Garret Healey is as wonderful as it is understated.

Nonetheless, even in a show with a thoughtful book, sensitive music, and insightful lyrics, the cast is the final arbiter of the production’s success. And that touring cast is awesome, and in my opinion better than the replacement cast I’ve seen on Broadway.

Stephen Christopher Anthony is ideal as Evan Hansen. He has a natural charm which, combined with a tender vulnerability, makes you want to protect him. This is a critical factor as it is evident that at some point Evan crosses the moral line between a lie of omission and a sin of commission.

Anthony doesn’t sugarcoat the young man’s deceptions; rather, it helps the audience understand why it behaves in such a way. In effect, it makes everyone in the audience remember an action they took that might be less dramatic, but similar.

Indeed the entire cast finds the soul of their characters – who, in their own way, are misfits. Nikhil Saboo captures Connor’s isolation as well as his toughness. Stéphanie La Rochelle is suspicious but warm like Zoe Murphy. Evan’s two friends, Jarad played by Alessandro Constananti and Alana played by Ciara Alyse Harris bring humor to many scenes.

But the body of the emotion comes from the two mothers. Claire Rankin is touching as Connor’s mother, as she captures the need to believe in how Evan invents his troubled son. As Evan’s overworked mother, Heidi, Jessica E. Sherman projects the pain of a mother unable to provide a safe haven for her son.

His number “So Big/So Small” will have an impact on all the parents of the public

As a bonus, the scenography by David Korins is ideal for the story being told. The effective and constant digital projections of the first act are perfect for a story about how social media, zoom and Instagram isolate people and give them permission to create a false image of the world.

In the second act, the setting becomes less crowded, allowing for some memorable stage footage. Japhy Weidman’s lighting design lives up to the whole thing, adding clarity and emotion to this harrowing two and a half hour story.

“Dear Evan Hansen” is an illuminating, thoughtful look at topics we’d rather avoid. But it’s not a sad or depressing experience. Indeed, there isn’t a character on stage that you won’t recognize from your own life experiences.

For this reason, and many other reasons, it’s the perfect show to see with a young member of your family.

“Dear Even Hansen” continues at Proctors in Schenectady through Sunday. For tickets and schedule information, go to proctors.org or call (518) 346-6204. (Thursday and Saturday matinees, the role of Evan Hansen will be played by Sam Primack or Jared Kleinman. Face masks must be worn inside the theater.

About Nell Love

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