Musical ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ strikes chord with vulnerable hearts

A scene from the musical 'Dear Evan Hansen,' featuring actor Park Kang-hyun as Evan Hansen / Courtesy of S&Co

The Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen” made its long-awaited debut in Korea at Seoul’s Chungmu Art Center in March.Since its premiere in Seoul, audiences have remained consistently captivated by the titular character, Evan. Throughout the show, Evan intricately weaves a complex web of lies, yet never fails to provide heartfelt solace to vulnerable hearts in each performance.The musical’s storyline centers on a letter addressed, “Dear Evan Hansen,” originally drafted by Evan himself during his therapy sessions for his anxiety disorder. What begins as an introspective exercise swiftly transforms into a chaotic spiral when Evan’s heartfelt note is mistakenly construed as a classmate’s suicide letter.As Evan is thrust into the role of the deceased student’s confidant, he finds himself fabricating stories he never actually went through to provide comfort to the bereaved. This facade soon escalates beyond his control, propelling him to awkward fame in school.

Despite the titular character’s deceitful tendencies, the musical suceeds in eliciting a complex mix of sympathy and empathy from audiences with its heart-wrenching music and plot. The musical delves deep into the inner struggles of a high school student grappling with loneliness, resonating with viewers who have gone through similar heartaches. The production has already earned widespread acclaim, catapulting it to success on Broadway just two years after its premiere in Washington, D.C. in 2015 and winning the Grammy Awards and the Tony Awards.The show is composed by American songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — best known for their work in the movies “La La Land” (2016) and “The Greatest Showman” (2017) — and based on an original book by American playwright and television writer Steven Levenson. It was directed by veteran director Michael Greif, who had taken the helm of big-name musicals like the original productions of “Rent” (1996) and “Next To Normal” (2009).The Chungmu Art Center performance marks the acclaimed musical’s debut in Asia.At a performance on March 29, the musical once again struck a chord with eager Korean audiences. Initial murmurs of discontent regarding the protagonist’s lies gradually gave way to audible sniffles, indicative of the lasting impact the show had.

Actor Park Kang-hyun took on the demanding role of Evan, delivering a performance that resonated deeply with the audience. Park skillfully portrayed Evan’s perpetual state of anxiety and fear, immersing himself fully in the character.Park’s attention to detail was remarkable, capturing Evan’s anxious gestures and trembling breaths with precision, drawing the audience into his emotional turmoil.His vocal prowess was equally impressive, especially evident in the emotionally charged number “Words Fail,” where his character confesses to the bereaved that he has been deceiving them all along. The actor’s emotional intensity reverberated throughout the theater, quelling any criticisms directed at his character.Beyond Park’s stellar performance, several elements contributed to the musical’s impact.The use of multiple screens backstage to depict the spread of Evan’s memorial speech through SNS added depth to the production, leaving the audience to wonder the societal impact of Evan’s actions.Additionally, the heartfelt rendition of the anthem “You Will Be Found” by the skilled choir evoked a sense of unity and solace among audience members. The ensemble’s sincere delivery of each lyric resonated deeply with viewers, culminating in a powerful moment of collective catharsis.The 토토사이트 musical “Dear Evan Hansen” continues until June 23.

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