Have you ever felt invisible? I have.
There are several moments in my life when I dreaded the idea of waking up and facing the world. There was the time when I was 10-years-old, and a little fatter than all of the other girls in school; when I transferred to a new middle school and would hide in the bathroom at lunchtime because I hadn’t made friends; when I was in my mid-twenties, and social anxiety would creep up and warp my sense of self, and the last few years I took care of my father before he died.
Dubbed by the Washington Post as “one of the most remarkable shows in musical theater history,” Dear Even Hansen tackled this very subject last night when it opened at the Music Hall at Fair Park.
The Broadway sensation that won six 2017 Tony Awards and a 2018 Grammy has landed in Dallas.
Dear Evan Hansen is a heartbreaker of a musical about a lonely high schooler desperate to be liked.
It all begins with a therapy assignment where Evan is supposed to write himself daily uplifting letters that start, Dear Evan Hansen, today is going to be a good day, and here’s why …
The problem, though, is that Evan’s days are not good. He is lonely. He has no friends. He feels invisible.
So the question really is: What would happen when it’s not a fantastic day? Or a month? Or a year?
It’s a question that many high school students face? Heck, it’s a question many adults face.
As timely as it can be, Dear Evan Hansen captures the strains between children and their parents, between husbands and wives, and peer to peer. It reminds us of how isolating life can be–if we let it.
Not based on a movie, TV show, or book, it is also a contemporary piece that deals with social media, relationships and human connection in today’s modern age.
Playwright Steven Levenson told the Associated Press that the central paradox of the musical is; why do people feel so alone in a world that’s so connected?
What a great question.
Levenson, who co-wrote the musical with Benj Pasek, said, “It’s a story that is very much about the world we live in today. But it’s also, hopefully, at its heart, it’s also a pretty simple story of these parents and children who are struggling to find one another.”
The story is driven mainly by a perception Pasek had back in high school when a student died, and his classmates rushed disconcertingly to claim the status of grieving intimates.
In the musical, when Evan’s “best friend” Conner takes his life, he does so, holding one of Evan’s letters to himself. His family mistakes it for a suicide letter and Even finds himself caught up in this story that makes him feel visible.
And he runs with it.
In the musical, there is a scene toward the end between Evan and his mother that doesn’t necessarily answer the question of why we feel alone but instead resolved it.
To give you a visual, Evan has fallen from grace after being swept up in the attention of his “best friends” suicide. He is devastated and reveals to his mother that he too tried to kill himself.
She, a single mom who’s husband moved away and started a new life with a new family, talks to Evan about what it was like to see her life move away in a truck. And how, she too felt invisible. And then she says one of the most critical takeaways from the play: She tells her son that one day, “all of this will feel so far away. Today, no matter what, you’re you–you’re not hiding–and that’s enough.”
And that is the truth.
The way I felt when I was 10-years-old, and my brother and sister would endlessly pick on me and call me “fat” no longer impacts me today. It eroded my self worth for a very long time, but as I grew to develop self-worth in myself and a strong realization of who I am in faith, I no longer am condemned by it.
The loneliness I felt when my dad’s dementia took away his ability to hold a conversation (and I had no life outside of taking care of him) didn’t eat me alive like I thought it would at the time.
The self-doubt that often crippled me throughout my life passed.
And, yes, there are days where it pokes at me when I look in the mirror, or I feel invisible. But me long ago realizing that there is hope, that these feelings will pass, and that they are not my truth made life so worth living.
I hope that is something we all can realize.
Presented by Dallas Summer Musicals and Broadway Across American, Dear Evan Hansen runs through Dec. 8. Tickets are currently on sale. The production has announced that a digital lottery offering fans the chance to purchase a limited number of $25 tickets is also in play. More information about the lottery can be found at luckyseat.com/dearevanhansen.