On the way home from New York City Mary asked me what my favorite song from Dear Evan Hansen had been.
Mind you, I had heard all of the songs a grand total of one time.
Unlike Mary, who knew every word of every song.
Unlike the woman sitting next to Mary, who also knew every word to every song.
During intermission I asked the woman if she had seen the play before.
“No,” she said, “I’ve just listened to the soundtrack a thousand times.”
Now, two weeks out, I’ve joined their ranks.
I want to see the show again in the worst way, but the tickets were a huge splurge the first time and would fall into the realm of ridiculous expenditures if I were to see it again.
“What’s it about?” Karl asked, a little mystified about my latest obsession.
In a nutshell, the story is about a socially awkward teen (Evan Hansen) whose counselor suggests that he write a pep talk to himself every day — Dear Evan Hansen. One of these letters falls into the hands of another social outcast who commits suicide. When the letter is found in the pocket of the deceased boy, his parents conclude that he and Evan Hansen were friends, and a fabricated friendship begins. This barebones synopsis leaves out a thousand important details, I know, but it’s a start.
What’s it about? I could have answered mental health or high school or parenting or social media or life.
I’m still trying to figure that out — life, and what it’s about.
As Mary and I stood in line to enter the theater, we saw a sign saying that the part of Evan Hansen was being played that day by Michael Lee Brown. People in front of us and behind began to grumble. Before taking my seat, I listened to a woman argue with an usher about it.
“I paid to see Ben Platt,” she said. Purse looped over her forearm, gloves in one hand, ticket in the other, silver-haired — she looked like the innocuous grandmotherly sort, but she went after the usher like a Rottweiler.
To future Dear Evan Hansen viewers: May you be so lucky to see Michael Lee Brown perform the title role. He was amazing. He was the perfect amount of awkward as he stuttered. His hands fluttered — a stage-visible sign of a racing heart, something I know too well. I watched his hands, fascinated.
What was my favorite song?
I know them all now and sing along as I make dinner or walk the dog.
The lyrics are quotable, meme-able, but so layered and rich.
I think I know which song I would choose now — but that’s probably a post for another day.