Paul’s Pick of the Week: The national tour of “Dear Evan Hansen,” Tuesday-Sunday at the Peace Center.

If you have tickets for “Dear Evan Hansen,” congratulations! Tickets are very tight for the Tony Award-winning show swinging through the Peace Center this week – but a few seats are left. Grab one!

Why people are crazy about this show: “Dear Evan Hansen,” centering on a group of high-school teens, is one of those musicals with a huge fanbase among young people. It’s attracting a new generation to the theater – and hallelujah to that! – much like “Wicked” and “Legally Blonde” did for a previous generation.

Yes, the show is about teen suicide, loneliness, and depression. But it’s also about the time-honored musical storyline of finding yourself and moving onward and upward. Evan is an anxiety-ridden high school senior who wrestles with an out-of-control lie and finds he’s not as alone as he thought. He forges an unlikely bond with a family coping with the suicide of his classmate.

That may help explain its appeal to young people who’ve ever been bullied or felt abandoned – and who hasn’t? With social media playing a big role in the show, “Dear Evan Hansen” also has an up-to-the-minute feel.

Dear Evan Hansen
Ben Levi Ross is featured as Evan Hansen in the first national tour of “Dear Evan Hansen,” Tuesday-Sunday at the Peace Center. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Thrilling score: And the show is driven by a dynamite pop-rock score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (known for the 2016 Oscar-winning “La La Land”). The cast album debuted on Billboard’s Top 10 – the highest ranking of any Broadway soundtrack since 1961. It also won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

Among the songs are the lyrical “Waving Through a Window,” the poignant “So Big/So Small,” and the triumphant anthem “You Will Be Found.”

What to expect: Expect a lot of young people cheering in the audience. Expect also to drop some serious tears during the show. Bring some tissues to share with your neighbor.

Award-winner: “Dear Evan Hansen” scooped up six Tony Awards in 2018, including for Best Musical and Best Score.

Why it’s big news in Greenville: It used to take several years for a blockbuster Broadway musical to reach Greenville – but not anymore. This first national tour of “Dear Evan Hansen” launched only last October and has visited other world-class cities such as Los Angeles and Denver.

Conversation-starter: News stories suggest the show also has prompted some meaningful family and public conversations about depression and suicide.

Please note: Due to the Independence Day holiday, the July 4 performance is scheduled early, at 6 p.m.

Paul Hyde, a longtime Upstate journalist, writes about the arts for the Greenville Journal. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.

If you go

What: “Dear Evan Hansen” by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (music and lyrics) and Steven Levenson (book)

When: 7:30 Tuesday-Wednesday; 6 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; sold out Sunday

Where: Peace Center
Tickets: $55 to $130
Info: 864-467-3000 or www.peacecenter.org

 

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