Oh my heavens. This is one powerful show. I had my suspicions from what I knew about Dear Evan Hansen may be too mature for my kiddos, so my husband and I left them in the hands of their grandparents and had an evening sans children. And that was the right decision for our family.
Evan Hansen is a high school student struggling with severe anxiety. When a letter he wrote as part of his therapy homework is found in the possession of a peer who committed suicide, a series of events is set into motion.
This show is visually stunning. The set pieces are simple but effective, while lighting and the incorporation of technology is used to perfection. The cast we saw was amazingly talented and each did an exceptional job capturing the essence as well as the subtleties of their characters. They are also, of course, fantastic actors and singers.
There are many moments of humor and levity, which are timed wonderfully to break up the heartbreak that is key to the show. It is a beautiful story that highlights how people are not all good or all bad- we all have moments of both.
As much as I loved this show, I am glad we did not bring the children. There is foul language, although since they go to public school and professional sporting events, I doubt there would be much they hadn’t heard before. The themes are pretty grown up and intense. Mental health, suicide, marital conflict, the pros and cons of social media, and dishonesty all make significant showings. I’m just not sure our Chicken and Nugget would have been old enough to understand all of what was happening and have a context for processing what they saw.
That being said, there is plenty of fodder for communication with older children. Their experiences with social media, how they cope with feelings of distress, their navigation of relationships, concerns they may have for the wellbeing of friends or peers, and just what it means to be a friend. If you are open to the themes and conversations, it is an amazing show to experience.
What it’s not: for young children, light hearted
What it is: incredibly powerful, beautiful, important, timely, potentially triggering for many people, full of mature themes
Do we recommend it? For older children or a date night, yes. It is truly one of the most powerful shows I have seen and it is extremely well done. Maybe just wait until the kids are a bit older to take them.