Today I went to see Dear Evan Hansen at The Kennedy Center. I purposefully didn’t look into much of what the play was about because I like going into things without reviews filling me head with pre-conceived notions of what I am about to see.
I knew it was about a kid with a cast and that was about it. I had no idea what to expect. I saw the play in The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater. While it felt small, actually seats 1164 people. We were on the main level in the very last row.
Scene from our seats at the back of the main floor.
It was my first time in the last row and I really enjoyed being able to stretch an arm behind me to seat next to me. There is no saving the knees of a 6’5″ frame in a theater, so any little bit of extra room elsewhere helps. I didn’t have to worry about blocking the view of anyone behind me which was an extra stress removed from the production.
The stage production was very interesting. They used a series of translucent screens with various images and video clips projected on to it. It reminded me of seeing Nine Inch Nails years ago. The screens put me off at first. It’s a simple play in its sets and subject and I felt the screens were infringing on the storytelling I was watching. And my stepmother made a good point about it being a sign of the times we live in. Where everything is colored by a screen. Everything we do has a glow to it.
Rarely do we sit and watch something live. It all happens on screens of different sizes.
Whether it was commentary on society or simply a way to fill a big stage without much happening in many of the scenes, it become more useful as the play progressed.
The play is dark. With the entire story built on a single lie. A lie born of good intentions, but still the basis for everything that follows. As in life, there was good to come out of the lie as well as bad. I turned to my wife at intermission as we’re riding high with our character getting everything he wanted and said, “And now it all falls apart.”
And it did.
After intermission, our character got what he deserves. His fall comes hard. But he saved a family and built something truly remarkable.
This is the first theater I’ve been to where the orchestra was positioned in the air above the stage rather in a pit below it. For most of the play they were behind screens and overshadowed by the visuals.
Except for the final scene where the orchard is shown and the beautiful sky is seen above it, and I giggled to myself as the floating orchestra was revealed.