DEAR EVAN HANSEN

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*****

I refuse to tell you what DEAR EVAN HANSEN is about because it might keep you from going. The synopsis sounds like a cliché with a predictable resolution, but nothing is cliché or predictable in this heart-felt, transportive, glorious new musical.

Ben Platt received an Obie for his hilarious, touching, beautifully wrought portrait of a teen dealing with social anxiety disorder who finds an unorthodox way out of his shell. Michael Greif directs with his usual sensitivity. Social media blends into the production’s set without calling attention to itself. Catchy Pop tunes fill the Score by Pasek and Paul, I’ve included one below for you to enjoy. Not since RENT can I remember rocking out to a score on first hearing.

Everything about this musical is deft and subtle except for the strong emotional impact which gave me a moment of communion with a stranger in the audience. As we exited our row, we caught each other’s eye, she said “Breathtaking” and I said “Amazing.” We shared a smile. Theater: the real social media.

Now that I have seen the show on Broadway, I stand by my review above.  If anything, it is even more poignant and focused on its themes of community and resilience. 

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Waving Through a Window video

 

FULLY COMMITTED

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*

Jesse Tyler Ferguson is a talented actor. His Leaf Coneybear was integral to the success of THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE and his excellent comic timing shines on the TV program “Modern Family.” Mr. Ferguson is more than up to the challenge of FULLY COMMITTED.

FULLY COMMITTED is a one-man show about a struggling actor who takes phone reservations for one of the hottest restaurants in Manhattan. He also plays all the people who call in; patrons, the Chef, the Maître D’, Gwyneth Paltrow’s assistant and 40 others.  This should be a tour-de-force performance, but it isn’t.

Each character has a pose and a voice, but no soul, no humanity, no reality.  The approach was lazy and the Director, Jason Moore, should have done more. This show is amazing when the performer inhabits all of these recognizable New York types.  The way Jason Moore and Jesse Tyler Ferguson put together this production, the only truth on stage is when Mr. Ferguson plays the sweet, suffering main character.  What a wasted opportunity.

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