Dear Evan Hansen

When Dear Evan Hansen meets POTUS

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So we set out to see two different shows in the city, and we conquered those goals.

Getting tickets for Dear Evan Hansen was pretty straight forward. It’s what we wanted to see, we went to TKTS, stood in deadly heat for an hour, and then trotted our way off to the theater for our big return to Broadway.

Now, personally I try to go into all entertainment experiences with as little information as possible. I want to be shocked or surprised. I want everything to be brand new for me. It enhances the experience.

So if you’re the same way, and you think there’s a chance you’ll see either of these shows, then you might want to call it a day for this article. I suggest this one instead. If you already know about the shows, or you don’t care about knowing or you even prefer knowing what you’re going to, or you just don’t think you’ll find your way to see either show, then please read on.

Dazzled by Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen

So I went to Dear Evan Hansen as a blank slate. Ready to be dazzled at the greatness of high-quality theater. I expected to enjoy the music, marvel at the dancing, and laugh a few times.

But I had no idea that I’d have tears streaming down my face for half the show.

Dear Evan Hansen deals with many important and complex topics, including depression, anxiety, challenges of parenting, and suicide. And much of it made me terribly emotional. I couldn’t help but think of the five (!) suicides that have touched my life. I couldn’t help but think of all the hardships I’ve endured over the years that were being portrayed brilliantly on stage.

Yet the show was so wonderfully written and executed that the sadness never lingered too long. Every time I thought I couldn’t take it, in a moment Dear Evan Hansen was there to yank me back in with laugh-out-loud hysterical moments. The show was never tasteless. Just a brilliant weaving together of the sad and the silly.

Dear Evan Hansen, Musical vs Movie

Dear Evan Hansen

I liked the show from start to finish. I love how it didn’t have a Hollywood ending, and how the “hero” of the musical got essentially penalized for his misdeeds without an ability to recover and get everything he’s ever dreamed of in life. And I also enjoyed the presentation of the complexity of social anxiety. It manifests itself in many different ways, with some characters doing a better job of masking it to the world, and others having just about no coping mechanism whatsoever.

But most of all, those eight brilliant actors entertained me from start to finish. I laughed, I cried, and my thoughts were provoked. That’s a very successful evening!

I should mention that on the plane ride back from the States I decided to watch the movie (and four others…), which was a really tremendous dive into the creative choices of those who adapted for film.

There were many, many small differences, like making one character a step-parent and another character gay. I can’t help but contemplate every choice and try and figure out its motivation. To be honest, I thought the film was mediocre. And as much as the music is enjoyable, it gave me a “Why the heck are they singing all of a sudden?” vibe. But just to be able to contrast with the stage production and discuss the differences with the wonderful wife was reason enough to experience both.

How We Got to POTUS

Dear Evan Hansen

The second show we saw comes with a story.

It was our last night in the city. We were itching for a positive experience, especially considering my earlier description of New York City in 2022. But it would seem, at first, like the stars weren’t aligned for us.

We decided to take a bus from Staten Island to the city, since we no longer had the patience for the crazy two-hour multi-part schlep to the city. But about ten minutes into our ride, we found ourselves trapped behind a downed power line. Our 45-minute long trek took us three full hours!

Well, we had plenty of time to discuss what we wanted to see during that time. And finally we decided upon a plan and a backup plan. But things didn’t work out for us so well. We got to TKTS just after 6:30PM, a mere half hour before closing. Our first choice was no longer available and our second choice would only be possible if we quickly ran to the theater, risking not seeing anything at all that night, and paying full price if we did.

Or there was choice number three. Which was choosing something available quickly, slapping down the cash, and crossing our fingers that something will salvage what seemed like quite the lackluster final night in New York.

We went with choice three. And we were so pleasantly surprised to find everything fall into place so perfectly.

Laughing Like Crazy at POTUS

Dear Evan Hansen

POTUS was an all-women comedy production that was immensely funny from the very first word all the way until the curtains closing. The star-studded cast included Rachel Dratch from Saturday Night Live and Lea DeLaria from Orange is the New Black. We knew nothing about the show, and would have never chosen it unless everything up until that moment went wrong. And how happy we were that the day was such a bust until 7PM. Because the show was perfect. It was exactly what we needed!

The premise of POTUS was the president (completely un-featured) was a buffoon who had many women in his life whose basic purpose, either professionally or personally, was to make him look good. But they all knew there were many others far better suited for the role of Commander in Chief.

POTUS both subtly and not-at-all subtly touched upon political topics, but always tastefully, and always leaving you with tears streaming down your face from laughter.

The Perfect Show for that Night

Dear Evan Hansen

Before that day, neither of us had ever heard of POTUS. And to be honest, going to a regular play on Broadway seemed unthinkable. Yet it was perfect. It was exactly what we needed at exactly the right time.

And it didn’t hurt that the next step of the evening was an absolutely fantastic steak at Le Marais!

Yeah, New York City is not what it used to be. It has found so many ways to disappoint. But thank goodness, Broadway is still there to dazzle us at every turn.

We’ll always come back for more!

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