Dear Evan Hansen Takes the Stage at the Aronoff Center

The smash Broadway musical explores humanity in the modern era.
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Photograph by Matthew Murphy

It’s easy to overlook how much social media has changed society because—at this point—it’s part of everyday life. Dear Evan Hansen, the six-time Tony Award–winning Broadway musical stopping in Cincinnati from April 30 to May 12, explores this societal transformation. The show tells the uncomfortably familiar story of a teenage student, in this case the shy Evan Hansen, attempting to navigate and forge new relationships in high school, when an unexpected tragedy lands Evan in the spotlight and sends him down a complicated path of lies and uncertainty.

Photograph by Matthew Murphy

“What’s remarkable about this piece is that it is set in this time period in which we are still figuring out what it means to grow up with this sort of web of digital connections,” says Jessica Phillips, who plays the role of Evan’s mother, Heidi Hansen. “We have these curated versions of ourselves on these pages that are two-dimensional, when in fact, [they make us] feel even more alone.”

Phillips finds that the connectivity (or lack thereof) between each of the characters creates a story that anyone can relate to. “It makes the topics universal to any generation and any time period; it just happens to be the storytelling of what’s happening right now.”

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