Wildly popular ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ arrives at Peace Center

Dear Evan Hansen
The first national tour of “Dear Evan Hansen” swings into the Peace Center Tuesday, July 2. Pictured are Ben Levi Ross (Evan Hansen), Aaron Lazar (Larry Murphy), Christiane Noll (Cynthia Murphy) and Maggie McKenna (Zoe Murphy). Photo by Matthew-Murphy

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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