Dear Evan Hansen Reviews
The New York Times- Highly Recommended
"A superb production...Although it occasionally trades in perky caricature, for the most part Mr. Levenson's book sensitively explores Evan's predicament...The songs, by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, strike the same complex notes...It's the finest, most emotionally resonant score yet from this promising young songwriting team...But the appeal of 'Dear Evan Hansen' is virtually inseparable from the endearing awkwardness that Mr. Platt brings to the stage."
NY Daily News- Recommended
"This bittersweet and stirring musical is all grown-up, with far-reaching appeal...Levinson's story taps into teenage angst in fresh ways and sidesteps teachable-moments earnestness. But the plot has a few holes...The multifaceted pop-rock score pushes many emotional buttons...Sensitive direction by Michael Greif is another asset. His sleek staging makes deft use of sliding panels and projections; his cast is topnotch."
Hollywood Reporter- Recommended
"Not since 'Spring Awakening' has a new musical spoken more directly than 'Dear Evan Hansen' to the melancholy adolescent outsider buried inside us...There's also enough sincere emotion to make it quite affecting. That's due to smart writing and a fine cast led by Platt in a breakout performance...If the lyrics overall are often merely serviceable, the gentle pop-rock score is consistently easy on the ear...There's much to appreciate here."
Vulture- Highly Recommended
"The songs have the sonic contours of thrummy emo pop but with the kind of careful structuring only found in the best musical theater...I'm not sure I've ever seen a performer Platt's age maintain that level of technical virtuosity while delivering a wrenchingly sad portrait of loneliness at the same time...Usually new musicals have things like incoherence and irrelevance to fix. ‘Dear Evan Hansen' has only to embrace its potential bigness a little more. It's already a small gem."
"Levenson's plot-heavy book gets deep and dark without losing its sense of humor, a most impressive achievement that is enhanced by Pasek and Paul's emotionally charged score. Both components are outstanding, even while occasionally working against each other...But when it all comes together, the effect is intensely moving...I can't say enough about Ben Platt's bravura performance...He leads the excellent company in a show that is truly most dear."
Variety- Highly Recommended
"Steven Levenson's book for this bittersweet musical captures both the humor and the pathos of a hopeless misfit, played to perfection by Ben Platt...Under the insightful direction of Greif, Platt goes beyond physical specificity to get under Evan's itchy skin and unsettled mind. And the introspective, gentle score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul becomes the language of his troubled thoughts and unspoken yearnings."
New York Post- Recommended
"One of the best new musicals of the season isn't on Broadway, but off — the funny, touching 'Dear Evan Hansen'...Bolstered by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's catchy, superbly crafted score, the show looks at how the Web can build something up, then just as easily destroy it — and how teens build identities and connections. At times the tone recalls YA fiction's emo king, John Green, but the show has an identity of its own. Ironically, considering the subject, it feels real."
Entertainment Weekly- Recommended
"While the cast is wonderful, it's Platt who really makes the show...His nervous stutters and stumbling monologues are wrenchingly real, and he brings the sleepier songs, most of which harken to mid-aughts acoustic pop, to life...Despite the musical's occasional flaws in pacing Platt's performance, and the emotions he draws out of the audience, lingers long after his final bow."
"'Dear Evan Hansen' is an ingenuous, multilayered original...The production is directed with smooth, appealing theatricality by Michael Greif. It also has a star-making performance by Ben Platt. He is an astonishing young actor....This is central in convincing us to go along with Evan on his troubling journey and to try to forgive the talented creators when they make us feel manipulated—even betrayed—by pat, sentimental takes on such serious subjects as mental illness and suicide."
amNY- Highly Recommended
"With an extremely vulnerable performance from Ben Platt, 'Dear Evan Hansen' is a clever and moving portrait of high school teens...The storytelling is timely, engrossing and complex. The tone alternates between gentle, satirical, provocative and wrenching. The songs are seamlessly integrated into the book. Greif's intimate staging is built around digital projections that materialize on shifting panels...It has the potential to attract a big following, and deservedly so."
Wall Street Journal- Highly Recommended
"It's smartly crafted, emotionally open-hearted and ideally cast. What's more, it's pitched to and has been embraced by millennials...yet its appeal is universal...Michael Greif has staged 'Dear Evan Hansen' with fluid, fast-moving simplicity...The score is not quite as strong as Steven Levenson's ingenious book...Still, the songs work on their own terms, and the book is strong enough that it could be done on its own as a play...The best musical to open on Broadway since 'Hamilton.'"
NorthJersey- Somewhat Recommended
"The plot is elaborate; the tone is serious, but with doses of comedy…Its songs are generally lacking in variety, tending to be declarations of feelings belted straight at the audience. Yet, several numbers, passionately delivered by Platt with his face soaked by sweat, and, seemingly, tears, have an elemental power that goes beyond spoken dialogue. 'Dear Evan Hansen' is, to be sure, overstuffed, but that means it offers a lot to chew on."
Washington Post- Highly Recommended
"'Dear Evan Hansen' is musical storytelling of the highest caliber, a work whose captivatingly generous spirit is matched by its exemplary intelligence and fearless embrace of deep feeling. It belongs in that pantheon of musicals that lovers of the form seek to experience over and over...You don't have to be fluent in Facebook to understand the language this musical speaks so beautifully, about the necessity for all of us to make the kind of authentic connections that matter, and last."
Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended
"Platt's performance...is as profound and heartbreaking a portrayal of a 17-year-old as one might ever hope to see. It is the heart of a superbly crafted and performed show that is unafraid of complexity and ambiguity...This plot, which rarely strains credulity, brings up a veritable plethora of people in pain, and Pasek and Paul have penned a banquet of ballads of anguish and confusion, but they somehow avoid sentimental exploitation."
Time Out New York- Highly Recommended
"The captivating original musical 'Dear Evan Hansen' treats its story with decidedly adult sensitivity and intelligence. The score combines insightful, well-crafted lyrics with an exciting contemporary-pop sound, and Levenson's book gives all the characters shaded motives...Platt's performance is extraordinary. If 'Dear Evan Hansen' graduates to Broadway, as it should, attention will be paid."
The Wrap- Recommended
"'Dear Evan Hansen' is the real 21st-century deal...Steven Levenson's extraordinary book looks at the nature of community and fame in a world where people communicate not face to face but over the Internet...Pasek and Paul have written intelligent lyrics that are sometimes more commentary than poetry...Invariably, however, a simple tune is inflated to deliver the big moment with too much percussion and a bouncy syncopation used by every other modern musical."
Village Voice- Highly Recommended
"Steven Levenson's script cannily displays both Evan's increasing self-confidence and his parallel increase in suppressed guilt. The sharply written, expressive songs are astutely placed, balancing Evan's emotional shifts against the other characters' perspectives…Greif's principal achievement here, beyond keeping the show's many elements in elegantly shaped balance, is to have drawn uniformly rich, grounded performances from his entire cast."
Financial Times- Highly Recommended
"While maintaining that improbable balance between pathos and audacious irreverence for over two hours, director Michael Greif expertly sets forth an intricately crafted plot...Benj Pasek and Justin Paul also make the familiar sound fresh by blending rock, country and folk rhythms...More remarkable still is the philosophical depth of Levenson's book, which provocatively suggests a comforting illusion might be preferable to grim reality in the internet age."
The Guardian- Recommended
"Can a performance go viral? Ben Platt's should. As the title character in 'Dear Evan Hansen', he offers acting so precise yet so painfully lucid that it should overwhelm the operating systems by which most contemporary musicals operate...Yes, the emotional core can still turn occasionally gooey, and the critiques of internet culture, courtesy of Steven Levenson's mostly shrewd and clever book, are not exactly subtle...But it's impossible not to care deeply for these characters."
Deadline- Highly Recommended
"An exquisite new musical...The book by Steven Levenson portrays teen angst taken beyond the normal boundaries with compelling dignity...Platt embraces Evan with such fierce devotion that he seems more to inhabit than portray him...The show is knowingly cast and staged...The score soars. 'Dear Evan Hansen' is an intimate show with a gigantic heart."
CurtainUp - Recommended
"This thoroughly of the social media age show is short on the feel-good factor that comes with a catchy score and lots of peppy choreography...The result is an emotionally potent, sad but also funny take on life in the social media age...The emphasis here is on Michael Greif's flair for theatricalizing character-driven musicals...If rumors of a Broadway transfer turn into reality, both the book and some of the lyrics could use some rethinking."
Talkin Broadway- Somewhat Recommended
"Steven Levenson has crafted a powerful, astute book. And Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's sensitive and searing pop score is, at its considerable best, superior to anything heard on Broadway this past season. Unfortunately, they have not entirely figured out how to get these essential elements to work together...At various points, 'Dear Evan Hansen' either wants to be a gripping straight play or a full-out pop opera, but never the musical it ostensibly is."
"Heart-stirring and often shattering. But it's not just the show's universal and topical subject matter, smarty explored by Steven Levenson's mostly well-written book or Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's lovely, deeply felt score, that lends the work such pathos. What makes 'Evan Hansen' so special, and oddly lovable, is the brave and extraordinarily raw performance by Ben Platt...In the end, 'Dear Evan Hansen' is both a must-see musical and a tribute to the singular talents of its rising star."
TheaterMania- Highly Recommended
"'Dear Evan Hansen' takes a heartfelt snapshot of a hard-to-define moment in youth culture. Pasek and Paul pen another successful score of appealing contemporary melodies ready for mainstream crossover...As one of the few original musicals on the New York stage, a surprise plot twist is a rare joy that 'Dear Evan Hansen' can provide. Levenson's book tells a clear and compelling story, with Pasek and Paul's strong musical engine underneath."
Huffington Post- Highly Recommended
"One is tempted to say, simply: Don't ask questions, just go see 'Dear Evan Hansen'. This is the most emotionally stunning new musical since 'Fun Home'...Absorbing, wrenching, heart-breaking and at the same time exhilarating...The score is searing: bounteously tuneful music, with lyrics that range from gripping to tender to laugh-out-loud funny. Time and again, an already-winning song builds and develops in such a manner that it boosts our enjoyment and propels the show."
Broadway Blog- Highly Recommended
"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...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...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."
Stage Buddy- Recommended
"Librettist Steven Levenson's scenario is engaging, once you've suspended your disbelief about its more implausible components...Greif helps bring out some brighter undertones to the story during Act I, though the much-darker Act 2 at a certain point lapses into an unbroken orgy of tortured emotions. The songs, by Ben Pasek and Justin Paul, have the poppy-folky sound of a lot of contemporary musicals...The cast of eight does solid work."
Theater Pizzazz- Recommended
"It's not the just the universal subject matter, lovingly explored by Steven Levenson's mostly well-written book (if occasionally less-than-credible script) and the equally smart score, that lends the work such pathos; it's the brave and extraordinarily raw performance by Ben Platt...Pasek and Paul's lovely score often feel like additions to what could have been a straight play...I wish these super-talented young men could have found something more substantial for Thompson to sing."
DC Theatre Scene- Recommended
"Composer/lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have fashioned a tuneful, affecting pop-rock score. Director Michael Greif has created a first-rate, resonant production...Beneath the fanciful plot, 'Dear Evan Hansen' digs towards some insights into several aspects of human nature; the show acknowledges that even good people see a tragedy through the prism of their own needs, and sometimes use it to their own advantage."
Towle Road- Recommended
"A winning, insightful, and totally of-the-moment teen dramedy for the digital age. If its 'Heathers' meets 'Ordinary People' vibes don't always combine in perfect harmony, its humor and extreme heart are sure strike chords with viewers of all walks...Director Greif does expert work in familiar territory...Pasek and Paul's score is lyrical and emotionally rich, with an emo-pop, singer-songwriter feel that's perfectly matched with the story, and offers Platt in particular many moments to shine."
The Clyde Fitch Report- Somewhat Recommended
"It's a shame that a late and sizable script shortcoming lowers the rank of this tuner from surpassing musical treat to compromised excellence...The fair approach is to rave about 'Dear Evan Hansen‘s' outstanding elements, starting with Platt's star-making performance. Surely, too, the place to start is with Levenson's original book...Bolstered by Pasek and Paul's energetic music...They all lack the courage of their dramatic convictions, and thus contrive for Evan an unearned redemption."
WNBC- Highly Recommended
"What transpires in 'Dear Evan Hansen' is often amazing for audiences...The trick here is keeping Evan sympathetic, as the audience is considering his actions. Platt finds a way to pull that off, while staying true to the character. It's plain old good acting...Of many commendable elements in Levenson's book is the subtle note on which the story wraps...Where it all lands, finally, feels textured, accessible, believable and original. Paging Broadway?"
Bobs Theater Blog- Highly Recommended
"The contemporary pop score is well-integrated into the book. The emotional moments are quite gripping. David Korins's set design has round platforms that whirl in and out of sight and black backdrops for the projection of social media...Michael Greif once again shows his skill in directing thought-provoking musicals. The audience loved it. I would not be surprised if a transfer to Broadway is in the works."
Times Square Chronicles- Highly Recommended
"With its near perfect score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul...Subtle direction by Michael Grief, combined with a layered and truthful book by Steven Levenson, it has Tony Awards written all over it. Add to that the winning performances by the cast, especially Ben Platt, this musical will get under your skin and speak to you in so many ways...Here is an original musical that didn't skip any steps, wraps its audience in its arms and allows the music, the story and the characters to do their jobs."
Reviewing The Drama- Highly Recommended
"An original, emotional, affecting musical, free of stunt casting, is on Broadway...Levenson's book is both funny and touching; Pasek and Paul's score features accessible pop and smart, raw lyrics that reveal depth of character. It's going to be a great day because Rachel Bay Jones knocks you out with her portrayal of a frazzled, trying mother, and because Ben Platt gives a stunning, star-making performance as the exposed nerve that is our title character...Platt is the real thing."
StageZine- Highly Recommended
"It is a musical of our time and for generations to come...Michael Grief has taken this complicated tale and directed it with the lightest of touches. He knows it's a heady topic and he treats all the action and movements with the utmost respect. The book by Steven Levenson is brilliant; he combines teenage angst and pains with today's social media and all its trappings. The score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul is a marvel."
DC Metro Theater Arts- Highly Recommended
"The twists and turns that Mr. Levenson comes up with to tell his story are plausible and very satisfying...Michael Greif shows a firm and consistent hand in the flow and feel of this ambitious tale...There is room for fifteen musical moments that combine rare and varied melody, combined with intelligent lyrics that are beautifully sung by this talented ensemble...'Dear Evan Hansen' is a small gem of a show, one that packs an emotional punch far greater than many of its larger relatives."
Exeunt Magazine- Recommended
"Suffused with narrative purpose and emotional impact, the lyrics of the songs crack open each character allowing us to know their real fears and worries…Platt is equally riveting whether singing Evan's pent-up agony or walking in his anxiety-prone shoes…The book nicely balances some of the darker themes against a comedic lightness…Because so much of the musical moves with careful elegance, some bald plot machinations stand out in contrast."
ZEALnyc- Highly Recommended
"This brilliant new musical from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, with a smart book by Steven Levenson, is compelling and complicated...The entire cast is terrific, with Rachel Bay Jones a particular standout. But it is young Platt who we watch...With his gorgeous voice and detailed, authentic performance, he is someone to watch, no matter how difficult it might be."
Act Three - The Reviews- Not Recommended
"The music and songs were astonishingly beautiful. It really is possible to pair superb music with sub-standard material. As for the acting - overall despite the youth and inexperience of the cast - it was indeed superlative…I cried at multiple points at the show...But those tears were often tears for the sad and tragic situation he created...At over 2h:35m the show is also way too long…I too am tortured and torn. This show was so good, yet so disappointing all at the same time to me."
On Stage Blog- Highly Recommended
"A new (resonant, requisite, relatable) story about fitting in...'Dear Evan Hansen' is impactful for a number of reasons, but topping the list is the extraordinary performance by Ben Platt...You can't take your eyes off Platt when he's onstage...The depth of his dedication to character and performance is extraordinary and without a doubt one of the best performances I've seen this year...Steven Levenson's book is perfectly paired with a score which delivers a direct punch to the gut."
NJ.com- Not Recommended
"With its wildly implausible story line and its repetitive 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. But ambitions can't disguise the fact that nothing about 'Dear Evan Hansen' makes very much sense...No actor could bring coherence to what, at its core, is a collection of teen angst cliches in search of a workable plot."
Daily Beast- Recommended
"What Pasek and Paul, and Levenson, who wrote the book, do is bravely revel in dramatic perversity and a much gnarlier set of emotional and cultural truths...There are some brilliant songs as this insanity unfolds...'Dear Evan Hansen' doesn't do the obvious. Rather, it addresses, inconclusively, more complex questions over the meaning and importance of truth and significance of memory...'Dear Evan Hansen' is beautiful to look at it, slickly directed, and moving, but also biting and subversive."
Off Script with Dan Dwyer- Highly Recommended
"Once in a while a new musical comes along with an original story, a book that exactly integrates songs, and characters who achieve emotional intimacy...Beautifully rendered through a smart, keen book by Steven Levenson, and music and lyrics with Sondheim-like sophistication laced with a pop-folk cool by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul...The tiny cast of eight is individually and collectively first rate."
Out Magazine- Recommended
"Blanchett acts the part of the widow Anna with a full-throttle theatricalism that's vastly enjoyable...Richard Roxburgh matches her as the cutting Platonov, and with its inventive approach, this turns out to be the snob hit of the year, while also proving wildly accessible, especially when Blanchett and company launch into sexy and silly dancing moves to Tears For Fears. Chekhov must be rolling…with laughter. And Blanchett? What a diva."
Wolf Entertainment Guide- Highly Recommended
"A major musical on Broadway that deserves to find a new audience...The entire show is marked by creativity both in staging and performance. Platt is outstanding throughout in the title role of the production, which has a clever book by Levenson and involving music and lyrics by Pasek and Paul...Grief has directed with expert meshing of the show's many ingredients...Not only an enjoyable show, but an admirable one that bears repeat viewing to absorb all of its energy and imagination."
Front Mezz Junkies- Highly Recommended
"'Dear Evan Hansen' has not lost any of its power and tension. It soars with an intense beauty that still captures our hearts and plays havoc with it all at the same time...Not much has changed with 'Dear Evan Hansen' beyond a tightening of its components. Visually it's as perfect and awe-inspiring as it was Off-Broadway. Maybe even more so...I'm not sure if I will ever feel completely content with the final moments, but all in all, 'Dear Evan Hansen' delivers us a deeply felt rich story."
The Stage- Highly Recommended
"The musical boasts a darkly textured and deeply nuanced book and provocative songs that are drenched in feeling and fearless commitment. It never sentimentalizes its subject, but feels constantly truthful...This show registers its emotions with a frank, fearless ambivalence. The tone of uncertainty and palpable unease is stunningly projected by Platt...There are equally impressive performances from the other seven actors in the tight ensemble of Greif's deeply felt production."
The Observer- Somewhat Recommended
"It's Mr. Platt who earns the affectionate audience responses, not the character of Evan Hansen created in the one-note, one-dimensional pop tunes by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, or the unexceptional book by Steven Levenson that makes everyone sound like they're reading from the cue cards on a television sitcom…It's the kind of phony feel-good narrative that could bend toward parody and get boring fast. But thanks to Ben Platt, that possibility never comes up."
Carey Purcell- Highly Recommended
"It's a winner in every sense of the word. There is laughter and plenty of tears, soaring melodies, a brilliant scenic design and a message that teens and parents both will understand…Beautifully directed…With this performance, Platt will become a Broadway star. He may not have the most powerful voice, but it seems to be perfect for the role…The surrounding cast is excellent."
Live Theatre UK- Highly Recommended
"Full of heart, led by an extraordinary central performance from Ben Platt, and featuring a score of rapturous and rhapsodic joy, this is a wonderful, wonderful piece of theatre…It is splendid and moving, truthful and hopeful, tragic and humorous...There is not a single moment when energy or skill flags…'Dear Evan Hansen' is a masterpiece, a truly inspirational musical and a theatrical marvel...Completely different from, but ultimately better than, 'Hamilton.'"
Paste Magazine- Recommended
"It's tender and heartbreaking, but there's not a single moment that feels preachy—instead, the story, from start to finish feels fully authentic, which makes the show's messages really resonate...The show is anchored by Platt's beautiful performance...He's ably supported by Steven Levenson's strong book, which capably navigates nuanced content, deft characterization, and hot-button issues without missing a step."
Broadway World- Highly Recommended
"An original story mixing realistic humor with a heart-gripping look at adolescent loneliness and the dangerous power of the Internet...Director Greif creates a world of sensations flying too quickly for Evan to comfortably deal with, simultaneously displaying the intimacy of the story contrasting with social media's explosive reactions...A captivating musical drama that leaves you with a bit of optimistic warmth and thrill of having witnessed an exemplary artistic achievement."