“Dear Evan Hansen” was the darling of the 2017 Tonys, sweeping up a total of 6 awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, which went to the original Evan Hansen, Ben Platt.
Now the tour has reached Chicago with a new Evan/Ben, this time with Ben Levi Ross. And for those who worried that Platt’s shoes would be too big to fill, worry not.
I truly believe the show is best seen without a full summary of the plot (which you can surely find elsewhere), but to give the barest of an overview. The show is about Evan, an anxious high school student without any real friends. Quickly, he becomes entangled in a lie that grows bigger and bigger, with painful consequences. The story is about mental health, grief, the relationships between parents and their children, and the universal desire to matter, to be known, to be found.
Ross fully inhabits the role, putting the character’s internal struggles and pain on full display. And his voice? You can hardly believe it’s coming out of a lean 21 year old. He sings with such emotion, such power and the highest notes in the show are comfortably within his range.
And with all of the praise for Ross, he is matched by the entire cast. Maggie McKenna presents a touching portrait of a character both guarded and vulnerable (not to mention the beautiful tone of her voice). Jessica Phillips and Christiane Noll, each playing a mother in the show, both grab your heart every single minute they are on stage.
Catch this tour of Dear Evan Hansen if you can through March 10th. And if not, the show returns next summer, July 7, 2020. Tickets to the return engagement will go on sale to the public February 19, 2019. Don’t miss it twice!