Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Last week in New York, I went to see “Dear Evan Hansen,” the new original Broadway musical with music by Pasek and Paul and book by Steve Levenson. The show tells the story of Evan Hansen, a socially ostracized high school senior who writes letters addressed to himself as part of a therapy exercise. When Connor Murphy, a classmate bully, steals one of Evan’s letters, Evan panics—only to discover the next day that Connor has committed suicide, and the letter circumstantially appears to be his suicide note. On the spur of the moment, Evan fabricates a friendship with the classmate, and ultimately forges close relationships with the classmate’s surviving family: his parents and his sister, Zoe, on whom Evan has a crush. Evan must confront the consequences of his lie, and navigate the complications of his relationships, new and old.
For Evan, the self-addressed letters that his therapist prescribes serve as a means of self-expression, even when he lacks the vocabulary and the courage to articulate his feelings to others—namely, to his concerned mother. The letters, which begin “Dear Evan Hansen, today is going to be a good day, and here’s why:” are a sacred space, a venue for the expression of the unpleasant, the humiliating, the intensely personal, and everything between.
Dear Damien Chazelle,
A few weeks ago in December, right before the semester ended for Winter Break, two of my friends and I went to watch “La La Land” in Kendall Square. We were so excited about it that we bought tickets online a week in advance. In the theater, throughout the entirety of the movie, we periodically clutched each other’s hands and sank into our seats. At the end, while the credits rolled and the rest of the audience began to file toward the door, we sat in our seats, totally silent, shell-shocked.