Front Row Reviewers

Mar 25, 2020 | Extras, Musings, Utah

Dear Evan Hansen and Haunting Lyrics

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

By Jennifer Mustoe

The last show I reviewed before COVID-19 quarantined us and we now watch only television was Dear Evan Hansen at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City as part of their Broadway Across America. I want to say here, I loved the show. But what has stayed with me wasn’t the amazing performances, the incredible set design, or emotional story lines. For me, it was the music.

When my family and I have attended musicals, it has been our practice to listen to the soundtrack on our way to the production, and often for the week before. As soon as I assigned Dear Evan Hansen to me to review, I started listening to its music. My grandson in PA has been listening to the music constantly and so this added to my interest in these songs. I must say honestly, from the first song, I was hooked. This doesn’t happen with each musical I’ve attended. In fact, it happens with few of them. This may be because I review so many.

I was raised on the music of Camelot–the Broadway version with Julie Andrews (who I wanted to be when I grew up) and Richard Burton, who I think my mother had a fan girl crush on. (Who wouldn’t?) My mother called me Guinevere–which she told me was the Welsh connotation for Jennifer. (So why didn’t she just name me Guinevere?) Anyway, to this day, the songs from Camelot are firmly ingrained in my psyche, and I have always been a Arthurian legend freak.

Songs from other shows have stayed with me and my family. For months after seeing Urinetown, we laughed and sang Don’t Be the Bunny. And of course, long after we saw Hamilton (twice) we listened over and over and over to its amazing and emotional lyrics. And in fact, during one whole season Hamilton was my only playlist that kept me running when I was training to run 5Ks. I still can’t get through “Burn” without feeling a sense of complete outrage and desolation. Thanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Women actually really needed this, all those who’ve been cheated on or lied to, we get this and you found our words.

A few years ago, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the songs for Dear Evan Hansen, performed a delightful concert at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. Their story of how they started as a song-writing team, their fun-loving synergy, and their body of work at that time made for an enjoyable afternoon. But I’m going to be very honest. I did not like La La Land, and only barely liked Pasek and Paul’s songs in that movie. And I really didn’t like The Greatest Showman. At all. So it frankly surprised me how much I loved/love the music from Dear Evan Hansen. I saw the show a full month ago, and still, the songs drift through my mind all day and I have awakened with the tunes from my dreams. This is really unprecedented. And it’s that kind of thing when you don’t know all the lyrics so you sing the ones you know and hum the ones you don’t. I’m still transfixed.

What I glean from this is you don’t have to love everything about every show to find great aspects of it. Hey! That’s what we do at Front Row Reviewers–we Celebrate the GOOD in the Arts. But what it means for me personally is how deeply I can connect with certain songs–those that (wait for it) sing to me. (I’m allowed one pun per review, right?) Dear Evan Hansen‘s “You Will Be Found” is so powerful and it resonates with so many. And “Waving Through a Window” brings back every time we’ve felt invisible, and haven’t we all been there?

As we listen to the playlist, “For Forever”, my husband (who accompanied me to Dear Evan Hansen) says, “I really like this song.” I can see him reliving his childhood with his bunch of blustery brothers, finding moments with each on their big ranch.

But the song that hit me in the deepest part of me is “Requiem”. I recently lost my only sibling, my younger brother, and he and I had a difficult relationship and for many years had no contact at all. “Requiem” also meant a lot to me as I lost my oldest son years ago to drugs. And could feel that mother’s cry for her dead son. Yes, “Requiem” resonated with me on many deeply poignant and painful levels. It’s amazing how that song affected and continues to affect me.

One of the reasons why I love musicals is how we can find our own stories woven into the stories we see performed onstage. Dear Evan Hansen‘s music has changed me. And I’m grateful. Thank you for finding me in your work, Pasek and Paul. How did you know me so well?

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

AlphaOmega Captcha Classica  –  Enter Security Code