Dear Evan Hansen – West End Review

December 23, 2019


Dear Evan Hansen is the latest musical to hit the West End with a host of awards in tow including the Tony Award for Best Musical as well as five other wins to its name. With those sort of credentials it was always going to arrive in London but what did we make of it?

Dear Even Hansen is a musical that was always destined to be a hit when you consider that the duo behind the music are none other than Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, affectionately known as Pasek and Paul, whose other work includes the music for The Greatest Showman as well as the lyrics to the songs in La La Land. With those kinds of credentials, it’s clear that Dear Evan Hansen would always do well. That being said although the musical has only arrived in London this year, it was actually released in the US before those other two hits. With Pasek and Paul’s other work proving to be so enjoyable, we certainly expected to enjoy the performance.

The official synopsis of Dear Evan Hansen revolves around the idea of ‘a teenager who invents an important role for himself in a tragedy that he did not earn.’ Essentially there is a suicide at Evan’s school and through a number of coincidences, Evan is linked to the deceased. Unable to upset the grieving parents, he confirms that he was indeed the only friend of their late son and the lies continue to grow bigger until they threaten to tear Evan apart. As one might expect, the narrative thrust also includes the difficulty for Evan that his fake friendship propels him into popularity at school. It is darkly comic, tragic and makes for an excellent night out.

Newcomer Sam Tutty takes the lead role of Evan Hansen and delivers a hugely believable character. Working from Steven Levenson’s book, he delivers just the right amount anxiety into the role and captures the mood perfectly. As well as being able to hit the perfect emotional notes, he also has excellent coming timing, allowing for numerous big laughs from the audience. It’s fascinating to note that Dear Evan Hansen only has eight cast members; the story always seems to be so much bigger. Lucy Anderson deserves plaudits for playing love interest and grieving sister Zoe in her West End debut and it is clear both she and Tutty will both enjoy long and successful careers, such is their penchant for the stage.

The rest of the ensemble are equally as good; Dear Evan Hansen really is the sum of its parts. With that in mind, we feel we should name them all here – Rebecca McKinnis, Lauren Ward, Doug Colling, Rupert Ward, Jack Loxton and Nicole Raquel Denis; all offer joyous takes on their characters and at our particular showing, all received a very much deserved standing ovation.  Although from our seats we couldn’t actually see them, the small musical ensemble also deserve mention; they play on a raised platform just above the main set that enhances each and every scene, the set design specifically working to include them rather than have the orchestra hidden away in the pit.

It’s hard to know what else one can say about Dear Evan Hansen; from the gorgeous social media backgrounds to  the simple but effective screens which are utilised throughout the set design, everything feels note perfect. It was no surprise when the audience all stood to applaud as the final note was sung; we all felt we had been on a journey with these characters, who in turn delivered a strong message and make a strong claim to being the best production in the West End right now. All we can say is that we urge you to go!

 

 

 




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By Henry Fosdike