Anyone who knows me knows that I have a musical crush on the writing team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. I fell in love with their show Dogfight during my freshman year of college, and my appreciation for their work has only grown since. Their music always manages to strike the emotional chord that I need whenever I listen to it.
Through my love for the Pasek and Paul writing team, I heard about a new musical they were working on a few years back. They released a demo track of “Waving Through a Window” from the show on SoundCloud, and I immediately connected to the music. It became the song I played on repeat for hours. It was a song I related to so strongly. It’s rare to find a song that is able to move a person so profoundly, but Pasek and Paul have a knack for writing music that just does it naturally.
If you haven’t heard “Waving Through a Window,” here’s the track. I highly recommend you listen before going forward.
A while after I heard that first song, Dear Evan Hansen opened on July 30, 2015 on Off-Broadway. Following the Off-Broadway run, it opened on Broadway in November of 2016. Since it’s inaugural performance, the show received a steady growth of recognition, including earning an Obie award and a Drama Desk award.
The story and the music depict a raw look at mental illness and the struggle of not fitting in. The about section on the official website reads this: “A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in.”
Evan Hansen is a high school student struggling with serious anxiety and depression, which is a large part of why the plot develops the way it does. After a death of a classmate who Evan didn’t know very well, a letter leads to the grieving family to believe that Evan was better friends with their son than he was. Through this mistake, Evan gains a family dynamic he never had and a girl he always loved.
The book was written by Steven Levenson, while Pasek and Paul created the story and crafted the beautiful music that frames the plot. The honest look at mental illness that this show provides is empowering. It touches on grief, the drowning feeling of anxiety and depression, and coming back from a seemingly impossible mistake.
Dear Evan Hansen is a beautiful show. I feel as though I owe a thank you into the internet for Pasek and Paul and their amazing work. As a person who has struggled with mental illness, the music is so honest and true and really touches on the pain of a mental illness journey. It shows that good can always come out of dark places, which is incredibly empowering to anyone who has gone through anxiety or depression.
If you have not already listening to the cast album, I (obviously) highly recommend it. It deserves the acclaim it has received. I could talk about every song on the list, but then we would be here forever. All I can say is, if you’re looking for a lifeline, Dear Evan Hansen is a good place to start.
Thank you to everyone involved in this wonderful show. Thank you for demonstrating that everyone can be found.
Here’s the album playlist for you listening enjoyment: