Dear Evan Hansen: Why?

I couldn’t make it past the 10-minute mark. Just, cringe. First off, if he’s supposed to be such a backgrounded outsider, why can’t Ben “I’m sucking as bad as I can!” Platt act that part with his singing voice? Which instead is that awful showoffy American Idol style that to my mind originated with Mandy Patinkin in Evita. Utterly antithetical to the character he’s playing. I skipped around a little but everywhere I landed was worse than the last. It reminded me of Cop Rock; all the music is arbitrarily laid over a drama that absolutely does not call for, nor benefit from, being musicalized. In both shows, each song feels like someone bet they could add music to a random scene in a non musical drama. And then lost the bet.

I’ve heard a lot of the music on Sirius and never wanted to see it. Then I read a plot summary and wanted to see it even less.
But there must be a target audience. It just isn’t me.

I have tickets for the play, which has generally received very good reviews.

The reviews of the movie I have read make it sound like the opposite of entertaining.

Now I’m nervous.


I saw the musical on stage. It’s very good and I liked the idea of how everything escalated until Evan had to deal with it.

Decent score, but not a great one. Still, its Tony Award was well earned.

I saw it a few years ago on stage. It was pretty good, though not among my favorite musicals.

It might be helpful if the OP indicates what musicals he/she does like. Some people don’t “get” musicals at all, and that’s ok. Because adding songs to a dramatic story is what a musical is all about.

Well, if you’re talking about the movie… I mean, that’s the problem. Platt is a stage actor, not a movie actor, and the direction wasn’t competent enough to help him make that transition.

The OP is far from being an outlier in having issues with this movie.

I assume you’re talking about the movie, which by all accounts is terrible. The touring production of the play that came through LA in 2018 was quite good. Although I felt that, like Rent and Hair, it is a product of a very specific time period and will not age well and come across as extremely dated in about 15-20 years.

As far as target audience goes, my teenage son was the one who wanted to see it after seeing clips on YouTube. At the time we saw it, he was 16 and suffering from OCD and depression. He liked it a lot and even bought the cast recording on vinyl at the merch booth. Jump ahead a few years and he had absolutely no interest in seeing the movie after reading the reviews. He said “I don’t to ruin the good memories I have of the stage show”

Ok, that’s fair. I’ve only seen the stage show, not the movie.

Sure, but the OP seems to have a problem with this story being a musical at all, rather than just the execution. So it makes sense to ask what types of stories he thinks do work.

It’s possible he wouldn’t even like a well-executed musical of this type.

I love musicals. In a good musical the music adds a dimension to the drama. DEH’s musical numbers are arbitrary and just laid over the scene like it was a homework assignment.

Shows that would make great musicals:

The Magnificent Ambersons (Ambersons!)
Edward Scissorhands (Scissorhands!)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Mrs!)
Oleanna (Oleanna!)

Greatest musicals:
Sweeney Todd
West Side Story
Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Distant Voices, Still Lives

I agree the movie was very bad. The one bright spot was the the comedic number where Evan and his friend are writing and rewriting fake emails from Connor and the movie backs up as they change their phrasing. The rest is dreck.

There’s a saying that in musicals,

The characters talk until the emotions force them to sing,
The characters sing until the emotions force them to dance.

That’s how songs are supposed to work in a musical; they express emotion and do so in a way that carries you up an emotional story to a climax. If you just throw them in every few minutes, you don’t get that cycle, and it seems jolting.

I learned today that the movie was produced by Ben Platt’s father and that the direction of the movie very much suffers from wanting to showcase Ben Platt to the detriment of the whole. (In addition to casting an actor way too old to play the part). I haven’t seen the movie, but apparently there are cut songs and changes that make the problematic plot way worse. I did see the stage version and enjoyed it.