Urgent concerns about lost teens, powerless parents and the difficulty of achieving emotional connection in an age of overwhelming social media run like electric currents through the smart, deeply felt and altogether extraordinary new musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” which has opened on Broadway following an acclaimed Off-Broadway run earlier this year.
Ben Platt (“Pitch Perfect”) plays the title character, a high school loner who can barely bring himself to talk to other students, let alone his longtime crush (Laura Dreyfuss). Evan’s busy single mother (Rachel Bay Jones) wants to help him but is at a loss for solutions.
A chance encounter between Evan and Connor (Mike Faist), a troubled fellow student, sparks an unpredictable chain of events that will lead to Evan perpetuating a well-meant lie to Connor’s parents (Jennifer Laura Thompson and Michael Park) and the entire student body. That’s as specific as I can be without spoiling the intricate plot.
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“Dog Fight,” “A Christmas Story”), a young and extremely promising songwriting duo, have crafted a haunting soft rock score that is neatly integrated into Steven Levenson’s captivating book.
Michael Greif, director of “Rent” and “Next to Normal,” presents a tight and compelling production built around finely-textured ensemble acting and a seamless visual design of shifting panels and floating video imagery.
Platt is giving one of the most vulnerable and shaded performances you’ve ever seen. He is terrified, enigmatic and completely believable.
Except for a few comical and romantic moments, this is a serious and often uncomfortable portrait of contemporary domestic life. It is meant for teens, parents and virtually anyone who has identified as an outsider.
“Dear Evan Hansen” plays an open run at the Music Box Theatre. 239 W. 45th St., dearevanhansen.com.