(Peter Marks’s article appeared in the Washington Post, 8/3.)
If your upcoming vacation plans allow you any flexibility, then by any means possible add “Dear Evan Hansen” to your itinerary. The heart-piercingly lovely new musical, receiving its world premiere at Arena Stage, is a trip to the exciting place that musical theater sometimes takes you, a destination of wholly unexpected impact, where characters burst into song and you, in spite of yourself, into tears.
No mere midsummer romp, the musical, with a top-flight contemporary pop score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and an equally accomplished script by Steven Levenson, is as serious-minded as it is playful. Directed with exceptional intelligence by Michael Greif, the show is on one level a sly romantic comedy, the story of a high school caper gone risibly awry. On another, it’s a cautionary tale for our times, about the double-edged seductiveness of finding “community” on the Web. On still another, it’s a nuanced account of lying and being lied to — and how there can be surprising advantages on both the giving and the receiving end of a deception.
Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http 2015:// www.stagevoices.com/ . If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com.