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Cast Recording of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Debuts at #8 on Billboard

February 13th, 2017 Comments off
'Dear Evan Hansen' (Photo: Matthew Murray via The Broadway Blog.)

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ (Photo: Matthew Murray via The Broadway Blog.)

Producer Stacey Mindich and Atlantic Records announced today that the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Dear Evan Hansen has made an extraordinary debut on the Billboard 200, entering the chart at #8 – the highest charting debut position for an original cast album since 1961.

In addition, the album debuted at #4 on Billboard’s “Top Album Sales” ranking, and #1 on the “Top Broadway Albums” chart. The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Dear Evan Hansen is available now for streaming and purchase at digital retailers nationwide. Physical editions arrive in stores on Friday, February 24.

One of only four cast albums to reach the top 10 of the “Billboard 200” in the last 50 years, the album’s historic success even outpaced the debut chart position of the Hamilton, which bowed at #12. The other two albums to reach the top 10 in the last half century were Rent and the Original 1969 Cast Recording of Hair.

With a book by Obie Award-winner Steven Levenson, a score by Tony® Award nominees Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, and directed by 3-time Tony® Award nominee Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen officially opened to rave reviews on December 4.

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Breaking: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Announces Digital Lottery

December 6th, 2016 Comments off
Dear Evan Hansen (Photo: Matthew Murray via The Broadway Blog.)

Dear Evan Hansen (Photo: Matthew Murray via The Broadway Blog.)

Producer Stacey Mindich announced today that beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, December 7, Dear Evan Hansenwill launch a digital lottery, which will allow users to enter the lottery for a chance to purchase specially-priced tickets to that day’s performance. With a book by Obie Award-winner Steven Levenson, a score by Tony® Award nominees Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, and directed by 3-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen officially opened to rave reviews on December 4.

Users can enter the lottery at www.dearevanhansenlottery.com. Limit 2 tickets per customer, for $40 each. Participants may enter once a day for the desired performance, and up to twice on two-show days, for which entries will be accepted for both matinee and evening performances. The digital lottery will not be available for Saturday matinee or evening performances, and excludes all performances from December 23 – December 30. Standing room only tickets are now also available for purchase for $40 in person at the box office of the Music Box Theater, for sold out performances only.

The Broadway cast of Dear Evan Hansen includes Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfuss, Rachel Bay Jones, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Mike Faist, Michael Park, Will Roland and Kristolyn Lloyd, and Michael Lee Brown, Garrett Long, Olivia Puckett, Colton Ryan, and Asa Somers.

Dear Evan Hansen had its world premiere at Arena Stage, Washington D.C. and played a record-breaking New York debut at Off-Broadway’s Second Stage. Last season, the musical won ‘Best Musical’ prizes from the Obie Awards, Outer Critics Circle Awardsand Helen Hayes Awards.

The Original Broadway Cast Recording of the new musical Dear Evan Hansen, released on Atlantic Records, is now available for pre-order at all DSPs here: https://atlanti.cr/DearEvanHansen. The full album, which will be recorded this month, will be released on February 3, 2017 digitally and physical CDs will be available on February 24, 2017.

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Love and Lies: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

December 4th, 2016 Comments off
'Dear Evan Hansen' (Photo: Matthew Murray via The Broadway Blog.)

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ (Photo: Matthew Murray via The Broadway Blog.)

Rarely does a show come along that sits in the pit of my stomach, evoking those intense waves of emotion that come at life-altering moments. Realizing that you’ve fallen in love. An unexpected death. Betrayal. Faith. Resilience.

Such are the sweeping yet beautifully intimate themes of Dear Evan Hansen, a new Broadway musical that opened December 4 at the Music Box Theatre. Originally presented in Washington, D.C. at Arena Stage, then earlier this year at Second Stage in New York City, Steven Levenson (book), Ben Pasek and Justin Paul (music and lyrics) have delivered what has become somewhat of an enigma on Broadway: a completely original musical.

'Dear Evan Hansen' (Photo: Matthew Murray via The Broadway Blog.)

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ (Photo: Matthew Murray via The Broadway Blog.)

Loosely based on an event that Pasek experienced in high school, Dear Evan Hansen depicts what happens after the title character (Ben Platt) writes a letter that falls into the wrong hands of school stoner and bully Connor Murphy (Mike Faist). Evan, who exhibits high levels of anxiety and other spectrum-related social disorders, does his best to keep a lid on things, eliciting the help of family friend Jared Kleinman (Will Roland) and classmate Alana Beck (Kristolyn Lloyd).

Meanwhile a relationship develops between Evan and Connor’s sister Zoe (Laura Dreyfuss) and the Connor kids’ parents Cynthia (Jennifer Laura Thompson) and Larry (Michael Park). Evan’s mother, Heidi (Rachel Bay Jones)—a hard-working single mom—eventually discovers Evan’s secret as the turn of events goes viral through social media and he must decide whether to continue living a lie or face the consequences of his actions.

Mike Faist and Ben Platt in 'Dear Evan Hansen' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Mike Faist and Ben Platt in ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Without revealing plot spoilers, it’s safe to say that Levenson’s book offers just enough twists to keep the audience engaged without diverting into too many subplots. His success is in the development of fully realized, nuanced characters. It feels as though you’re watching an independent film. Director Michael Greif, though not particularly innovative in his staging in collaboration with choreographer Danny Mefford, wisely allows the script to breath, giving the acting company the space to embody the rich material.

Ben Platt, who originated the role, has unequivocally thrown down the gauntlet for this year’s Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. Both a victim of others’ actions as well as a manipulator to create a version of his life that he’d always wished for, Evan is both broken as well as resilient. Platt’s heart-wrenching performance comes to a climax in “Words Fail,” where the truth is revealed and he desperately tries to explain his actions:

Ben Platt in 'Dear Evan Hansen' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Ben Platt in ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Except sometimes you see ev’rything you’ve wanted
And sometimes you see ev’rything you wish you had
And it’s right there, right there
Right there in front of you

And you want to believe it’s true
So you make it true
And you think
Maybe ev’rybody wants it, needs it a little bit too.

Platt is supported by a terrific ensemble, most notably Dreyfuss, who’s soft-spoken Zoe avoids teen clichés; and Jones as Evan’s mother, delivering a painfully honest performance, epitomized in “So Big/So Small,” where her supermom persona dissolves into an admission of her own vulnerabilities. Only Feist as the brooding Connor misses the mark, delivering more boy-band-gone-bad than authentic teen angst.

Ben Platt and Rachel Bay Jones in 'Dear Evan Hansen.' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Ben Platt and Rachel Bay Jones in ‘Dear Evan Hansen.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

The physical production includes sliding video panels and minimalist furniture by scenic designer David Korins and continuing scrolls of social media feeds and live video with projection design by Peter Nigrini, but ultimately it’s the ensemble of eight actors that delivers the impact of Dear Evan Hansen, as well as a message of hope that we could all use right now. Evan leaves us with this:

Maybe some day, some other kid is going to be standing here, staring out at the trees, feeling so…alone, wondering if maybe the world might look different from all the way up there. Better. Maybe he’ll start climbing, one branch at a time, and he’ll keep going, even when it seems like he can’t find another foothold. Even when it feels… hopeless.

Dear Evan Hansen proves that there is plenty of hope for the American musical—especially one that transcends the theater and delivers a message that supports diversity, tolerance, and acceptance.

Dear Evan Hansen
Music Box Theatre
239 West 45th Street, NYC

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo