Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen soon gets the big-screen treatment, and the first trailer teases an empowering story of identity. Ben Platt reprises his stage role as the eponymous Evan Hansen, a teenager crippled by social anxiety who begins to realize that there is goodness in the world.
However, it is a bumpy journey towards redemption, beginning when one of his therapeutic self-help letters (written by Evan to himself) is stolen by fellow classmate Connor Murphy (Homeland's Colton Ryan). When the boy later commits suicide, the letter, still in his possession, is mistaken as a sign of deep-seated friendship. Before long, Evan is enveloped in the lives of the Murphys: mother Cynthia (Arrival's Amy Adams), father Larry (Law and Order's Danny Pino) classmate Zoe (Booksmart's Kaitlyn Dever)
Before long, Evan must confront the nature of his duplicity, and this means addressing intrinsic emotions through the songs of lyricists Pasek & Paul. This is the team behind the Oscar-winning likes of La La Land and The Greatest Showman, so one can imagine the crowd-pleasing tone of the finished product. Director Stephan Chobsky also has past form in dealing tactfully with sensitive subject matter, as 2017's Wonder, starring Jacob Tremblay as a child with a facial disfigurement, demonstrated.
Platt, Pasek & Paul and screenwriter Steven Levenson maintain that all-important continuity with the original show, so acolytes shouldn't worry about the material being lost in translation. (Coincidentally, the film is produced by Platt's father Marc, who steered the aforementioned La La Land to international success and several Oscar wins.) The show first took its bow in 2015 and went on to become a critically acclaimed success, scoring six Tony Awards out of nine nominations including wins for Best Musical and Best Actor (for Platt).
The production subsequently enjoyed success in its off-Broadway and international iterations, including a tour in London's West End. The nature of the music was met with praise with The New York Times writing: "The music, played by a small but excellent band on a platform upstage, is appealingly unstrident pop-rock, with generous doses of acoustic guitar, keyboards and strings. It's the finest, most emotionally resonant score yet from this promising young songwriting team."
It remains to be seen how effectively the music translates into the medium of film, but the omens are all good. The excellent cast also includes Julianne Moore (Still Alice) as Evan's mother Heidi and Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give) as fellow class member Alana.
Think that we're going to get a musical smash to rival the likes of The Greatest Showman? Let us know @Cineworld. Dear Evan Hansen is due for release on the 24th of September 2021.