Friday, November 17, 2017

Dear Evan Hansen: A play review, on the Thursday Afternoon #MINI

The best way to judge any piece or art is by the story it tells, and by the way it tells it. To be truly great, a piece has to have both, a great story told brillaintly. I have never really thought about muscial theatre in the same way I thought about poetry, painting, music compostion or literature, but Dear Evan Hansen changed that for me, two minutes after the curtain went up.

From the opening number (Anybody Have a Map?) Tony-Award winning Rachel Ray Jones left little doubt that the story was going to be told well, but I still had some nagging suspicion about the story itself. Just another teen drama? 

I had heard a lot of buzz about Ben Platt prior to the show as my wife and I waited in the long line to get in, but I got it as soon as Waving through a Window stuck a knife straight into my gut. The Tony Award winner delivered a powerful yet controlled and emotional yet not overly indulgent performance that made me want to hit play again as soon as it was over (something I do with the soundtrack all the time.)

At it's best, a work of art is something that moves the spectator, connects them viscerally to what is going on in the artist's mind. In effect, the spectator transcends his or her spectatorship to become intimately involved in what's happening in the medium. When you hear the anguish in Ben Platt's voice, you experience the tumult of a socially awkward teenager who has spent his whole life looking through the glass, wanting but not being able to go inside and join the fray. 

Credit the incedible job that Benj Pasek and Justin Paul did telling the story in a dozen well-written songs. Ben Platt's For Forever is a perfect example of the marriage of good story-telling combined with a great song that defines Broadway at it's best.

As far as the story is concerned, playwrights Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Steven Levenson were able to transcend the genre of Young Adult drama and create a playscript that is tragic and at the same time hopeful, heart-wrenching and at the same time uplifting. It is a beautiful story, and I look forward to seeing how author Steven Levenson manages to tell it on paper without ben Platt's rich vocals and spot-on acting. 

I could go on, but this is the #MINI and the rules are clear. Keep it short, Mister. 

Cheers, peter

Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at