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Anthony Norman as Evan Hansen and Alaina Anderson as Zoe Murphy in the touring version of "Dear Evan Hansen." (Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ review: Mental health themes ring true

The Broadway show playing through March 12 resonates today, but might be too much for some

“Dear Evan Hansen” opened on Broadway in late 2016, but it could not be more pertinent now.

With the mental health crisis among today’s youth, its themes of isolation, hopelessness and suicide are very pertinent, if painful to see play out on stage. This being show business, though, it is done with bursts of humor and wrapped around beautiful musical numbers.

This production of “Dear Evan Hansen,” described as the show’s final tour, is on stage at Seattle’s Paramount Theater through Sunday, March 12. It closed on Broadway last fall.

It is not for everyone. It is officially recommended for kids 12 and older but, as we often recommend: Consider your audience. Anyone seeing this show needs to be prepared to watch sadness and loneliness and to hear some colorful language and sexual references. It is not giving away too much to say that the plot is built around a young man’s suicide and its aftermath.

That aftermath involves a lot of positive, optimistic talk about supporting one another and preventing kids from feeling isolated. It also involves a well-meaning untruth that takes on a life of its own and inevitably, of course, blows up.

I saw “Dear Evan Hansen” this week with a 15-year-old self-described “theater kid” who also is very attuned to all things concerning mental health. She had previously seen the 2021 movie version and also had listened extensively to the soundtrack. She enthusiastically endorsed the show, though noting that it wouldn’t be for everyone — including some of her friends.

We found the acting strong and the songs heartfelt and well executed.

A note about the atmosphere: The set is backed by ever-changing digital images representing social media feeds and other content relevant to the plot. It’s a bit much at times, including before the show when all sorts of digital notification sounds were pinging as well.

“Dear Evan Hansen” runs roughly two hours and 30 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission. Masks and vaccination proof are no longer required at the Paramount.

 

‘Dear Evan Hansen’

Seattle Paramount Theater, March 7-12, 2023. Ticket information.

The 2021 film

More about the Broadway musical

 

About the Author

Julie Hanson

Julie Hanson is a longtime journalist, South King County resident and mom to a 15-year-old girl.