A trailer rarely has me welling up with emotion, but that was exactly my state watching the preview for Dear Evan Hansen. I had heard of the Broadway production mostly after it swept six awards at the 2017 Tony awards, including best musical, but it was my niece who had become enamored with it through its Grammy award-winning soundtrack. In 2019 she diligently persisted in asking to see the show as it traveled through Boston (and she knew what she was doing because I am a pushover). Having no knowledge of the show or its plot prior to walking into the theater that evening, I learned that my niece has great taste and that Dear Evan Hansen is resonant and heartfelt. I’m extremely excited that more people will get to experience the poignant, empathetic, and inspiring story with the release of the film.
If you’ve ever felt disconnected from this seemingly over-connected reality of trolling comments and half-hearted likes then Dear Evan Hansen may end up tugging on your heartstrings too. The story concerns a young high-school student, the titular Evan Hansen (Ben Platt), who arrives at school with a broken arm. Having been tasked by his therapist to write a letter to himself as a part of his therapy, a misunderstanding at the school’s printer sees angsty Connor (Colton Ryan) leave with the letter only to have it found on him after committing suicide. The letter leads Connor’s family to believe Evan was Connor’s best and only friend and they embrace Evan as the closest they’ll ever get to understanding Connor.
Dear Evan Hansen also looks to be in the right hands being written for the screen by its playwright Steven Levinson and directed by Perks of Being a Wallflower director and novelist Stephen Chbosky, who certainly knows a little about exacerbating teen drama. The songs are written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, names well-known through modern musicals such as La La Land and The Greatest Showman. Plus the film has an amazing cast in Academy Award winner Julianne Moore and nominee Amy Adams, plus the superb talents of Kaitlyn Dever and Amandla Stenberg. If the film has even an ounce of the heart that the stage production has, we’re all in for a fantastic treat in September, and the amazing soundtrack will find a larger audience as well.
OK, I will admit the reactions to the 27-year-old Ben Platt playing a high-schooler are a bit on the nose, though having been the star of the show on Broadway I understand the appeal of having him back for the film. Though it’s not like the rest of the cast are still in their teens either—Kaitlyn Dever is 24 and Colton Ryan will be 26 next month. Regardless, it isn’t like we haven’t heard this before like when James Van Der Beek started Dawson’s Creek and he was only twenty. I guess the only way some people will be happy is when these productions have the realism of teenagers playing teenagers. As for me, I think the film, and Platt, look like they’ll do just fine.
Musicals don’t always get the love and appreciation they should. People tend to think of older musicals from Hollywood’s silver age like My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, The Music Man, etc. when the word musical is mentioned. Sure, many still dote on the classics, but there’s a lot of haters out there for these older musicals too. Modern musicals, such as Dear Evan Hansen and the monster that is Hamilton, on the other hand, have been huge successes and seem to have created a buzz among younger audiences that fall in love with the highly influential soundtracks the same way twelve-year-old me knew every word to Evita back in 1996. 2021 looks primed to be a huge year for musicals with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights debuting this summer, Dear Evan Hansen arriving in theaters this fall, and Steven Spielberg’s updated West Side Story slated for a holiday release.
Dear Evan Hansen is expected to hit theaters on September 24.
So what do you think of the trailer for Dear Evan Hansen? Do you agree with Sean that it looks heartfelt? Do you also love modern musicals? Let us know what your favorites are in the comments! And if you’re looking for horror trailers we’ve got you covered!