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Dear Evan Hansen Gets RAVE REVIEWS!


Dear Evan Hansen opened at the Music Box Theatre on December 4th to RAVE REVIEWS! Check out BroadwayWorld.com’s Review Roundup:

Review Roundup: DEAR EVAN HANSEN Opens on Broadway – All the Reviews

December 4
7:20 PM2016

Review Roundup: DEAR EVAN HANSEN Opens on Broadway - All the ReviewsDear Evan Hansen, the new musical with a book by Obie Award-winner Steven Levenson, score by Tony Award nominees Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, and direction by three-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif, opens on Broadway tonight, December 4th, 2016, at the Music Box Theatre (239 W 45th St).

A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Both deeply personal and profoundly contemporary, Dear Evan Hansen is a new American musical about life and the way we live it.

Lets see what the critics had to say!

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: What’s more, this gorgeous heartbreaker of a musical, which opened at the Music Box Theater on Sunday, has grown in emotional potency during its journey to the big leagues, after first being produced in Washington and Off Broadway. Rarely – scratch that – never have I heard so many stifled sobs and sniffles in the theater.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: The show was already impressive in its lauded off-Broadway premiere at Second Stage Theatre earlier this year, directed with as much vitality as sensitivity by Michael Greif. But the characterizations now seem even more fully lived-in and the connective tissue among the ensemble – whether playing biological or adoptive family, young lovers or high school acquaintances thrust into an uneasy friendship of convenience – has genuine sparks. The entire cast of that earlier production returns minus one, with Michael Park reprising the role he originated in 2015 at Arena Stage in D.C.

Adam Feldman, TimeOut New York: What does it look like when a star is born? In the case of Ben Platt, the astonishing young actor who plays the title role in Dear Evan Hansen, it’s a bit like an actual birth: beautiful but strange and wet, tinged with confusion and danger. Evan is painfully introverted; he has no friends in high school, and even the thought of talking to a girl he likes, Zoe (the poignantly unaffected Laura Dreyfuss), makes his palms perspire. Platt’s performance extends that to his whole body; when he sings, his face often gleams with sweat. Yet the effect is not off-putting; Evan is immensely lovable, even when he makes terrible mistakes. He speaks in rushes of instant regret, as though frantically digging a hole to bury himself in, and his intense awkwardness is filtered through first-rate comic timing, high-wire dramatic acting and a gorgeously expressive tenor voice.

Jesse Green, Vulture: The big problem in writing great musicals is not the difficulty of writing great songs. The big problem is that the songs, great or not, are cannibals, picking the stories clean and leaving a pile of bones. It’s a zero-sum system. In musical dramas the problem is even worse, as innumerable failed adaptations of huge 18th-century novels have proved. (They often seem like Cliffs Notes of Cliffs Notes.) But when a musical drama clicks, an amazing fusion event occurs: The songs and the story enlarge each other in the process of becoming inseparable. Think of Sweeney Todd or, more intimately, Fun Home. And now add to the list Dear Evan Hansen, which opened tonight in a production beautifully directed by Michael Greif. I called the Off Broadway production at Second Stage this May “the feel-anxious musical of the season.” But it is even better on Broadway, so fine in its craft and rich its gathering of themes that, like the best works of any genre, it rewards being seen again – and again.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, Entertainment Weekly: Leaving a new musical with a great song or two running through your head is a rare but exciting thing. Leaving with about 10 great songs running through your head is pretty much unheard of. But that’s the power of Dear Evan Hansen, which just opened on Broadway after a world premiere at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage and a stint at Second Stage Off-Broadway.

Linda Winer, Newsday: Finally, there is Platt (the “Pitch Perfect” movies), with his astonishing vocal nuance and his rare ability to communicate bunches of conflicting feelings with just a frown and a hurt, hopeful smile. His portrayal of catastrophic, perhaps autistic alienation is so astute in the early scenes that, when Evan miraculously heals up, we feel a little guilty for missing the old one.

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: Given how it loads its dramatic and moral dice, and the swings of tone between comedy and terrible tragedy, the question is what will collapse when the truths are revealed in Dear Evan Hansen. Well, it doesn’t supply what you might expect from some musicals and dramas about teen suicide, our truth-dissembling online worlds, and an extreme case of fabulism. Dear Evan Hansen is beautiful to look at it, slickly directed, and moving, but also biting and subversive-and so may have more to say about teen suicide, parenting, and internet lunacy than the most finely worded op-ed column.

Jeremy Gerard, Deadline: Platt seems more to inhabit Evan than to merely portray him. The halting delivery of soulful lines, the arms that flutter out in birdlike spasms as if grasping for logic or reason and, most of all, with a voice that rises from assured tenor to plaintive falsetto all conspire to bring this character to life. Evan could be cousin to The Glass Menagerie‘s Laura Wingfield.

Steven Suskin, Huffington Post: The formerly promising young songwriters Pasek and Paul, who created an interesting score for Dogfight and a surprisingly accomplished one for the holiday show A Christmas Story, are promising no more; their talent is thoroughly realized with Dear Evan Hansen, one of the strongest scores in years. The songs are not merely tuneful and funny and touching; Pasek and Paul can plumb the inner depths of their characters and rip through emotions in words and music. And as contemporary as their new score is, it should be added that their three musicals have demonstrated that they are equally adept in varied musical theatre styles.

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: And what makes “Dear Evan Hansen” yet more extraordinary is how all of the teenage nuance explored so exquisitely by Platt, all of this fledgling character’s hope and hesitation, is baked formatively into the score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, a youthful duo I’ve deeply admired since first hearing their score to, all of all things, “A Christmas Story” in Chicago. The link between that retro show and this thrillingly contemporary exploration of the trials and pitfalls of late adolescence is not as distant as one might think.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News: The current theater season is only about halfway over. No matter. It’s still a sure bet that when it comes to thrilling and unforgettable moments few will rival the one that comes 15 minutes into the dazzling “Dear Evan Hansen,” at the Music Box Theatre. Yes, that special.

Matt Windman, amNewYork: 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.

Christopher Kelly, NJ.com: Allow me to be a dissenting voice: Having seen “Dear Evan Hansen” twice now — with its wildly implausible storyline and its repetitive pop-rock score — I am mystified by the enthusiasm for it. Maybe the show’s celebrants are responding to the creators’ willingness to tackle such dark themes, or the admittedly hard-working performance of star Ben Platt (Benji in the “Pitch Perfect” movies), who plays the neurotic title character. But laudable ambitions can’t disguise the fact that nothing about “Dear Evan Hansen” makes very much sense.

Mark Shenton, The Stage: How thrilling it is that Broadway, a place largely turned into a destination to make money not art, is still capable of producing shows that are genuinely bold, daring and confrontational. With Hamilton and the recent arrival of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, there’s plenty to challenge and provoke already. Dear Evan Hansen adds to New York’s impressive musical slate.

Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record: Viewing “Dear Evan Hansen” a second time, at Broadway’s Music Box Theatre, where it opened Sunday, I found I had much firmer feelings than when I first saw it. When I attended the off-Broadway production in May, it seemed a musical of many parts, some good, others shaky, and I don’t think I fully digested the whole. In my repeat visit, I felt, first, that I had vastly understated Ben Platt’s performance by calling it “affecting.” He’s remarkable.

Peter Marks, Washington Post: “Historic” is an adjective I’ve rarely used to describe a performance, but a review that does not invoke it for Ben Platt’s incandescent turn in the ravishingly bittersweet “Dear Evan Hansen” would be doing it less than justice.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: The very thought of a Broadway transfer of “Dear Evan Hansen” might chill the blood of theatergoers who loved this bittersweet show when it played in the intimate setting of Off Broadway’s Second Stage Theater. But through the alchemy of Michael Greif, who directed the original productions at Arena Stage and at Second Stage, Broadway’s Music Box Theater proves a perfect fit for this sensitive musical starring a sensational Ben Platt as a neurotic misfit trying to survive senior year in high school. As for the music and lyrics by Benj Pasekand Justin Paul: Not since “Next to Normal” has a score tapped so deeply into the troubled psyche of its needy protagonist.


A Rave for Snapshots in Everett!

Village Theatre’s sweet ‘Snapshots’ captures a marriage in time

By Gale Fiege
Herald Writer
EVERETT — After 20 years of marriage and a lifetime of friendship, Dan and Sue don’t really talk much anymore.

Their son is now grown and gone, Dan is a workaholic and Sue is ready to leave home.

She writes a note, grabs her suitcase from the attic and hopes to sneak away. But Dan returns from work early and finds her in the attic. Sue throws a blanket over the suitcase.

While standing there, the couple uncovers a box of snapshots. As they look through the photos, their memories come to life.

Village Theatre’s production of “Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook” — opening its three-week run tonight at the Everett Performing Arts Center — is a romantic (and touching) comedy, but it doubles as a clever way to celebrate the songs of award-winning composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz.

The musical features 26 songs from 12 shows including “Pippin,” “Wicked,” “The Magic Show,” “Godspell,” “Enchanted,” “The Baker’s Wife,” “Children of Eden,” “Personals” and “Reluctant Pilgrim.”

When Schwartz heard in the early 1990s about Michael Scheman’s and David Stern’s concept for the revue show, he gave his blessing. When they finally had a rough draft, Schwartz joined the project and adjusted some of his songs to better fit the story.

Village Theatre got involved in the project in 2005, when “Snapshots” made its debut in Issaquah as a Village Originals developmental production. Since then, the show has been staged in other small-scale theaters as the writers worked to polish the script.

Now, Village Theatre’s mainstage production marks the final stages of development.

Capable and well-known Village veterans Beth DeVries and Hugh Hastings play Sue and Dan.

The funny Mallory King is Susie, the child and the teen version of Sue. Ben Wynant plays Danny, Dan’s goofy younger self. With this production, King and Wynant also are returning to the Village stage.

New to Village Theatre, Tracy McDowell plays Susan and Jim DeSelm is Daniel — the college grad, young professional and then newly married couple.

At first, it’s easy to wonder about the time travel involved in the show, but it isn’t long before the audience is taken in by the talents of the cast and their ensemble work.

As usual, the Village Theatre scenic, costume, lighting and sound designers have done a great job and the directors and stage managers have pulled it all together.

See this musical. Laugh. Cry. Enjoy the music of Stephen Schwartz.

And don’t be surprised if you see couples holding hands as they leave the theater.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @galefiege.

If you go

“Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook” opens Oct. 23 and runs through Nov. 15 at the Everett Performing Arts Center. For tickets, call the box office at 425-257-8600. More at www.villagetheatre.org/everett.

Snapshots Gets a Rave!


‘Snapshots’ captures the imagination

September 16, 2015

By David Hayes

NEW — 5:25 p.m. Sept. 16, 2015

Whoever said nothing is ever new anymore should meet the creative minds behind Village Theatre’s debut of the new musical, “Snapshots.”

Technically, the concept isn’t new — a couple whose marriage is on the rocks re-examines their relationship through the memories elicited from photos stashed in the attic.

By Tracy Martin/Village Theatre Sue hands Dan (Beth DeVries and Hugh Hastings, middle) a goodbye note, unpersuaded by memories of their younger selves, Susie and Danny (Ben Wyant and Mallory King, left) and Susan and Daniel (Tracy McDowell and Jim Deselm), during happier times in Village Theatre’s new musical, ‘Snapshots.’

The twist here is the tale unfolds through the greatest hits of composer Stephen Schwartz. However, even if you’ve heard such modern-day standards as “Popular” from “Wicked” or “Extraordinary” from “Pippin,” you’ve never heard them like this new, refreshing presentation.

First things first, the casting proved to be pure genius with just six actors portraying the same two characters — Sue and Dan — through various stages of their lives. Beth DeVries brings such a depth of weariness that you feel her pain of no longer wanting the relationship to continue. Hugh Hastings is perfect as the oblivious husband who doesn’t realize that the same old charms no longer work.

Mallory King and Ben Wynant perfectly capture the youthful exuberance of the young couple while Tracy McDowell and Jim Deselm again perfectly portray the duo as they transition into adults.

Director Daniel Goldstein, who has actually helmed the Broadway production Schwartz musical “Godspell,” coaxes some wonderful performances out of his cast, both hysterically funny and heart-achingly poignant. Some of the most memorable performances come from the younger cast members portraying the peripheral characters in the couple’s life. And some of the funniest moments come when the older couple directly interacts with their memories.

Which leads to a special call out to the scenic designer, David Farley, and even the prop manger, Monique Walker. Most of the setting takes place in an attic. With such a static setting, they’ve managed through projections to portray the snapshots of memories through the years. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a production with so many props that are actually pivotal to the advancing plot.

But what tie this tale together are the songs. It boggles the mind how writers David Stern and Michael Scheman interwove such disparate tunes from different eras spanning three decades into an ongoing theme. So even if you’ve never heard one of Schwartz’s songs, you’ll wonder at its familiar sound. And I’ve always been astounded how an actor can successfully pull off an accent or lisp while singing. No spoilers. You’ll see.

The emotions from “Snapshots” will elicit tears of laughter and tears of sorrow. Yes, it gets that poignant at times — that or I’m just getting to be a softy.

Rarely do audiences get the opportunity to watch something new on the stage. “Snapshots” has been a decade in the works since it first appeared in Village Theatre’s Originals workshops. But you’ll enjoy how refreshing it feels with old concepts all made new again.

If you go