BROADWAY TO BOOK: Dear Evan Hansen Review

Summary: Thanks to a letter that was never meant to be seen, Evan Hansen finds himself drawn into a family’s grief over their lost so . Evan feels forced to stick to the lie that he never meant to tell, that he was Connor Murphy’s secret best friend. Suddenly, Evan isn’t invisible anymore- to the whole school and even to the girl of his dreams. Connor Murphy’s parents treat Evan as their own, and through it all, he finally feels like he belongs. No longer trapped by his anxiety, this new Evan Hansen has a purpose. Until things slowly, but surely start to unravel and Evan finds himself face to face with his biggest obstacle: himself.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

As a DEH fan, I was highly anticipating the novelization of Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich. However, I admit that I was really nervous to pick up this book inspired by one of my favorite musicals. It almost feels like a reverse book-to-movie adaptation! Would DEH the novel live up to everything that is DEH the musical?

My answer? Yes and No.

The plot and message behind the novel is essentially the same as the musical: Evan, a lonely teenager with mental health issues of his own, finds himself in a situation he never wanted to be in, pretending to be Connor Murphy’s best friend. While the book is primarily told from Evan’s perspective, readers get more insight on the teens, like Zoe, Alana, and Jared. We see Zoe’s grief more and get more character development from her, and we learn how Jared and Alana are more similar to Evan than he may think. I also enjoyed songs and dialogue directly from the musical were implemented in the story. The text messages and Connor Project comment posts also were similar to the emphasis on technology on stage.

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Yet, there were moments where I thought the book strayed too much from the musical or were just unnecessary. For example, Evan’s real name is Mark?? One major change from the musical to the book is Connor’s perspective. I appreciated getting to know Connor more, however, I felt the expansion of his storyline wasn’t necessary and even getting his perspective was unrealistic. While fans from the musical may look to better understand Connor, it almost felt like Thirteen Reasons Why for me, as if there had to be a specific reason for Connor’s death.

However, there were also moments where I thought the book could have strengthened  through elements from the musical. One moment that stands out to me is Evan’s speech in front of the student body. It just didn’t feel as impactful to me in the book than it was in the musical. I feel like this would’ve been the perfect moment to almost directly put in what Evan sings in, “You Will Be Found.”

Overall, I think the readers who will most enjoy the novelization of Dear Evan Hansen are those who have not yet experienced DEH in any way (Broadway, listening to the soundtrack, Wikipedia page read-through,etc.) and perhaps DEH superfans. While I enjoyed this book for reminding me why I love DEH as a musical, I believe the balance between the musical and added plot elements could have been better executed.

This review is based on an advance reader copy. By no means did this affect my thoughts or opinions. 

Are you a Dear Evan Hansen fan? Is this on your TBR? Share in the comments!

My Experience Seeing Dear Evan Hansen ft. the Amazon Bookstore

Dear Fangirl Fury,

Today is going to be a good day because you saw the Broadway show you thought you’d never see a week ago. And that show was the INCREDIBLY DESERVING OF THE HYPE, Dear Evan Hansen.

My parents completely surprised me with tickets to Dear Evan Hansen for Christmas. I had only mentioned the show once or twice to my mom, and with how popular DEH is right now, I would have never guessed that’d I get to see the show. I even bought the book back in May because I thought reading would be the only way I could experience the show itself!

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So on a warm Saturday morning (please tell me this means that zero degree weather is over), my mom and I went into New York City and we grabbed lunch at our favorite Irish pub before the 2 PM matinee. Like when we saw Hamilton last January, we had a leisurely lunch and it was nice catching up, since I’m now back at school. We’ve already decided that if we don’t see a show next year, we’re still going to go have lunch at the same place.

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I rarely take photos of my food, but this pretzel bun was too precious

As you may have expected, I absolutely loved Dear Evan Hansen. Even though I was a tiny bit disappointed that I just missed Ben Platt’s run, I really enjoyed seeing Michael Lee Brown play Evan. He adopted the character so well (all of the actors in the show, including him, actually felt like high schoolers playing high schoolers) and his voice was amazing. I was totally impressed with everyone’s singing, and I highly recommend listening to the original cast recording even if you have no plans of seeing the show. I’d list all of my favorite songs, but then I’d be giving you the entire album! With the exception of Ben Platt and Kristolyn Lloyd, I saw the entire original cast, including Laura Dreyfuss, who I was really excited to see because I loved her on Glee. I think my mom especially loved Will Roland as Jared, who brought a lot of humor to this sad and deep show, and while I admit that I didn’t cry, I did feel some tears welling up during “Requiem”.

Outside of the singing, my favorite part of the show was the incorporation of technology and social media into the set. I loved the use of physical screens, which adding some more dimension to “on the outside always looking in”. The social media and phone projections, along with the lighting, were all really cool, and I’m curious to know if some of the video footage was prerecorded or if it was part of the live performance.

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After the show, my mom and I made a pit stop at the M & M store because my mom wanted to pick something up for my siblings (self-reminder for me to never step in that tourist trap again). A half hour later, with the belief that I could never look at a pack of M&Ms again, we made our way to Amazon Books on 34th Street. I’ve been really interested to see how the Amazon bookstores work and my mom wanted to see if they had a book that my dad was interested in; whenever my dad wants to read, we make sure if happens! While I like the idea of the prices matching the prices on the Amazon website, having to repeatedly scan the barcodes with the Amazon got old pretty quick. I ended up not picking anything up—I also agree with the general opinion that most of the books are bestsellers—but it was still a pretty cool experience. After that, we made our way home, planning out our next Broadway trip.

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As expected, I was too distracted by the books to take bookstagram-worthy photos

I’m now obsessed with the DEH original cast recording (I guess it’s time to give Waitress a break). I had listened to a lot of the album before I saw the show, but I stayed away from the last few songs, but why didn’t I listen to ‘Good For You’ & ‘Words Fail’ sooner??

Have you listened to Dear Evan Hansen? What are you favorite Broadway shows? Have you been to an Amazon bookstore? Share in the comments!

My Experience Seeing Waitress the Musical

There are only a few shows on my Broadway bucket list, and Waitress was of course one of them. I’ve wanted to see the show since Sara Bareilles and Jessie Mueller’s performance of “She Used to Be Mine” at the 2016 Tony Awards, so when I had the opportunity to see the show last Tuesday, it was easy as pie to say yes! It’s a musical featuring baking, for crying out loud, my inner Lara Jean Song was screaming!

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I went to the show with a friend and we had little over an hour to kill before the show, so we decided to walk around Times Square and the theatre district, which meant that we were obligated to walk past Hamilton: An American Musical, which also meant going into the Hamilton merchandise shop. AND I’M VERY PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THAT I RESTRAINED MYSELF FROM BUYING ANYTHING—I kept reminding myself that Christmas is near, despite my NEED for a “Wait for It” mug.

We made it to the theatre a half hour before the show began and that left me plenty of time to buy some Waitress merchandise. I ended up picking up a really cute Waitress mug, and I’m still debating if I’m going to display it on my bookshelf or use it for tea and hot chocolate.waitressmug

Waitress is currently on a national tour in the US right now, but if you see the show at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York City, don’t worry about where you sit! While the theater sits around 1000 people, it’s on the smaller side. I sat a few rows back in the center mezzanine and could see everything perfectly!

In short, Waitress was absolutely amazing. I loved how pie was incorporated throughout the set, even though they made me crave something sweet- thank gosh Thanksgiving is this week! I was super lucky to be able to see Jason Mraz as Dr. Pomatter in his ten-week engagement with the show. I never really listened to the Waitress original cast recording prior to the show but now I couldn’t imagine anyone else as Dr. Pomatter. Stephanie Torns played Jenna and she was absolutely perfect, I was so impressed with her singing. While the show is very emotional, there were many comedic moments. As much as I loved Jenna and Dr. Pomatter, the side characters stole the show for me, including Dawn, Becky, Ogie, and Joe. I admit that it takes a lot for me to cry when it comes to books, TV, or musicals, but I was broken during the last five minutes of the show, as there was just such a heartwarming (and a bit heart-breaking) of an ending. My favorite songs from the show include “Opening Up”, “Bad Idea”, and “She Used to be Mine” .

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Waitress was my fourth Broadway show and aside from Hamilton, it was the best Broadway show I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend seeing it if you have the opportunity to and I would love to see it again one day!

Have you seen Waitress the Musical? Share in the comments!

My Experience Seeing Hamilton

Since February 2016, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with Hamilton. And when one is obsessed with this musical about Alexander Hamilton, one knows that there’s a 0.00000001% chance of ever being able to see it due to its high demand and extremely expensive tickets. That being said, you can imagine my shock when I found two tickets underneath my Christmas tree. My parents first played the tickets off as a joke gift, as they were wrapped in a bunch of The Children’s Place bags. I’m just five feet tall (or so they tell me) so I’m used to my height being the source of most ha-ha moments. What I thought would be a pair of kids’ pajamas turned into an envelope with two tickets to the room where it happens.

So on January 8th, 2017, my mom and I set off on our experience seeing Hamilton. Beforehand, my mom had never listened to the show besides listening to my constant renditions of “My Shot”. We went the day after a huge snowstorm and it was still really cold out. So naturally at the train station, I stepped into a huge pile of slush while getting out of the car, my feet freezing and my once-black boots taking on whatever what was in that pile. Once we got into the city, the weather and my feet warmed up, the latter thanks to a pair of fuzzy socks from Duane Reade.

Since we already had our tickets, my mom and I weren’t in a rush to get to the theatre, and we had a great lunch at The Pig N Whistle (next way to my heart: food from an Irish pub). We arrived at the Richard Rodgers Theatre around 2:30 and there were just people on people on people in line. Even with the crowds, we went into the theatre quickly and had time to splurge $60 on the classic Hamilton tee and mug.

While we sat in the second row of the rear mezzanine, I could see the stage with no problem. Before the show even started, I was completely mesmerized by the lights. The lights hit the stage so that it looked like there were “Alex”s spelt all over the stage. As soon as “Alexander Hamilton” started,  I began judging how this cast sounded compared to the album. Unfortunately, by the time I saw the show, the original cast had left for other projects (even though there was a small part of me that hoped that Lin would make an appearance).I quickly stopped because the singing and acting were amazing. Jordan Fisher played John Laurens and Philip Hamilton, and I was in love with the character he brought to each role . While Javier Muñoz, aka ‘Sexy Hamilton’ didn’t perform as the title character, Michael Luwoye bought a lot of emotion and humor to Hamilton himself.

Hands-down, my favorite part of the show was the humor. Between Laurens drunkenly slumping over Burr during “The Story of Tonight (Reprise)” to King George III stomping his foot for his spotlight to turn blue, I couldn’t stop laughing. My mom loved every scene that King George III was in, both of us agreeing that Rory O’Malley completely stole the show as the monarch. Overall, I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the entire show and I’m so lucky to have had this experience seeing Hamilton. I ordered the Alexander Hamilton biography, the book that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the show, right when I got home because I needed more! The author, Ron Chernow, is coming to my school in a week to give a talk about his book so my Hamilton experience will most definitely continue throughout 2017.