I first got to experience and write about the exposed nerve that is Dear Evan Hansen with my growing theater group back in January 2017. The magical Q subway train had just opened and I distinctly remember my first ride on the perfectly named Broadway Express where I had the singular NYC experience of having a subway car to myself! I took this as a sign that I was in for a transporting evening on Broadway. I was right!
At the time our twins were 12. Given the difficult content, I decided it was not an appropriate show for them at that juncture. This did not stop me from infusing our home with music from the soundtrack at all times of the day and night and belting out the words to “Waving Through a Window” every. single. time it played. So two years (and a gazillion Q rides) later when the opportunity to take my now target market teenage twins to the show arrived, we all jumped on the Q and went. Two years. 730 calendar days. That is not a lot of time. The developmental bullet train that these kids are on is mind-blowing.
What I love about this show is the way it so honestly explores the challenges of not only being a teen but the very real challenges of raising a teen all under the theme of being seen. Seen as a person. Seen as a parent. Which begs the question: in the eyes of our children, can a parent be a person? God, I hope so. (Here I am with some fellow parents at the show two years ago).
Must say the Herculean efforts we throw at this situation called parenting are seemingly invisible to our wide-eyed, but often blind charges. Which is okay, it’s practically in the job description that was never handed over. As we sacrifice just a bit of our identity as a parent, it sure is easy to get lost in that role as much as our kids can get lost in the role and the purpose of being a kid. Which is why it is crucial to explore these roles via live theater!
Last time I saw the show I was way more focused on the experience of our dear Evan Hansen, impeccably played by the ever-endearing Ben Platt. During this second round my attention was trained on the parent’s, more often than not, painful experience. Not sure why… Time of life? New actor playing Evan Hansen? Memorized soundtrack? Or a combo of all three? Who knows, but I am grateful to have been there with my teenagers exploring the topic of being seen (or not seen) and finding perspective on our different though equally demanding life roles.
I am at a big “perspective” stage in my parenting. I encourage our two to always consider the other person’s side (including mine) when presented with a fraught situation. On the stage at Dear Evan Hansen we are presented with so many varying, but powerful perspectives encountering a whole host of fraught situations. It reminds us to consider the other person’s story, however heartbreaking it might be and to literally SEE where they are coming from. If you don’t understand, then ask and, really important, listen to the answer.
If you have not seen this show yet, GO! GO! GO! I am talking to you Karen Dragoni. If you have some teenagers in the house bring them. Sit with them. See them. Appreciate them and then look forward to about 10 years from now when they will appreciate you. I think it’s worth the wait. As always, my daughter wants to go again!! Maybe the dad can take her?
FYI – There were lots of seats available – which implies the show is at a stage in the production where it is a buyer’s market, which is good news for you from a price perspective.
Retraction: Last time I wrote about this show I said I couldn’t imagine anyone taking on the role of Evan Hansen, then played by my dear friend from afar Ben Platt. Well now I can say Taylor Trensch too nailed every nervous tic and super uncomfortable socially awkward gesture. The theater group first saw this actor in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a boot camp of a training ground for learning how to be socially awkward. We saw him again in Hello Dolly with Bette Midler.
I think he works within the cast more effectively to allow each and every member of the ensemble to more brightly shine and be seen (so to speak) but that might be my own deal because of my affection for Ben Platt. When he was on that stage I only had eyes for him (not in a creepy way – 🙂 ). Anyway – my experience was not one bit compromised without him.