July 17, 2017
Tony Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen is getting a book, and if fans had any tears left, they’d be crying
by Peter Clark
For anyone wondering if they lack empathy—anyone who fears they’ve missed out on the milk of humanity for so long that the only internal prodding they’ve experienced has been courtesy of a proctologist—might I recommend going to the theater and catching a performance of this year’s Tony Award winner for Best Musical, Dear Evan Hansen. In Charles Isherwood’s review of the show for the New York Times, he claims that he’d “rarely—scratch that—never… heard so many stifled sobs and sniffles in the theater.” That’s puttng it lightly. At the performance I attended, a teenage girl behind me wept for two hours straight.
Dear Evan Hansen follows a year in the life of an emotionally troubled teenager. When someone from his school commits suicide, Evan Hansen becomes the focus of a lot of wanted, and unwanted, attention. But Evan isn’t ready for any kind of spotlight. While he’s busy maintaining his newfound popularity, the pressure increases and everything about his life falls apart.
I’m not exaggerating. His life really does go to total shit.
Yet despite his tragic story, fans have found the show, and Evan, to be inspiring. Jeffrey Brown’s review at PBS included these tweets from fans:
“I brought our 15-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son to the show. Their older sister, our 16-year-old daughter, died by suicide a little over a year ago. We are still devastated. But it helps us when people talk about mental illness with understanding and compassion, as you did in your show.”
“Last night, I found out my dear high school friend had taken his own life on Thursday afternoon. I am devastated by this loss, but grateful for having a show like ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ to turn to. I just wanted to thank you for getting me through this incredibly difficult time. #Youwillbefound.”
Thanks to the people of Grand Central Publishing, now fans can also look forward a revelation-filled book about the show, according to Eric King at ew.com. Like last year’s Hamilton: The Revolution, the as-yet untitled Evan Hansen book will include “cast and crew interviews, unreleased lyrics, and the show’s libretto, as well as insight from the creators’ teenage years that helped shape the musical.” And for fans like those tweeters above, it’ll have “features on mental health and online personas” to address some of the show’s core themes.
The production people over at Grand Central might want to consider water-resistant papers and/or tearaway tissues on each page.
Fans responded to news of the book on twitter with gifs, many of which featured Ben Platt, the lead of the current Broadway production and a notorious cryer. Google the name and you’ll see photos of him crying so hard during the show that his makeup washes off.
The book is scheduled to hit shelves on November 21, and #youwillbefound buying it.
Peter Clark is a former Melville House sales manager.