Review: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ at Broadway Sacramento

Dear Evan Hansen

It’s not easy bringing up teens.

It’s not easy bringing up teens.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Wed 8pm, Thu 2pm & 8pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm; Through 1/26; $48-$180; Memorial Auditorium, 1515 J St., (916) 557-1999,
Rated 5.0

There are so many groundbreaking elements of the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen that it’s difficult to figure out what to highlight first.

This coming-of-age musical tackles subject matters not usually dealt with in a Broadway show: the complex emotional and social struggles of teenagers, the angst of mothers trying to guide and deal with their struggling teens and the impact social media has on youth.

The strength is how this production presents contemporary issues realistically, without the usual musical schmaltz or neatly tied-up storylines. And all are supported by a songbook with heart-tugging, dramatic and relatable numbers such as “You Will Be Found,” “For Forever” and “Waving Through a Window,” along with groundbreaking technology that presents social media as an integral and visual component of the show.

There’s the main character of Evan Hansen (played by a totally captivating Stephen Christopher Anthony). Evan is an awkward teen with social anxiety who gets pulled into a school tragedy, reluctantly becomes a social media presence and finds himself an unworthy hero who has built lies around himself. Also portrayed are the teens that enter and exit Evan’s world.

And then there’s the truthful, messy portrayal of two mothers trying desperately to relate to, and deal with, their growing distant teenagers caught up in worlds they don’t understand. These are brave, universal representations not usually tackled in Broadway musicals, with a particularly heart-rending performance by Jessica E. Sherman as Evan’s mother.