The Tony, Grammy, and Olivier award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen will leave the Broadway stage after an almost six-year run at the Music Box Theatre.
The musical was an instant success due to its popularity online, accessible pop music, and the internet culture that adopted it. With actor Ben Platt as the original cast lead, it broke various box office records and made back its original investment in just nine months, something remarkable for a new musical.
Broadway is a very old industry with big giants that keep it running, with musicals like The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. Breaking in with a brand-new musical is always risky, and it is hard to compete against old classics to remain on the stage. A few new musicals have broken through, though, like the worldwide sensation hip hop musical Hamilton and Wicked. Dear Evan Hansen was also able to hold on to its Broadway run beyond its first year.
At the production’s closing, the musical will have played 1,678 regular performances and 21 preview performances, making it one of the 50 longest-running shows in Broadway history. Again, a remarkable feat for a brand new musical.
Despite its ongoing success, after the production reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic and the closing of Broadway on December 11, 2021, ticket sales reduced notoriously. A once-packed theater was at 80% of capacity or lower.
It is speculated that its popularity also declined after the movie musical adaptation starring a 27-year-old Ben Platt pretending to be a 16-year-old was released in 2021. The movie was not very well received.For die-hard fans it was a lackluster production compared to what made the original so good.
Dear Evan Hansen has a book by Steve Levenson, a music score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and is directed by Michael Greif. The musical had over 1.5 million attendants over its six-year run.
The musical won 6 Tony Awards, along with Best Actor/Musical for Ben Platt, Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, and Best Featured Actress for Rachel Bay Jones. Its wins brought in a lot of controversies since it was competing against much more nuanced and complex musicals like The Great Comet Of 1812.
Some attempts to bring back attention to the production appear to have been in vain, like casting Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo as Jared, to start on July 19, 2022. Other cast members include Ann Sanders as ‘Cynthia Murphy,’ Noah Kieserman as ‘Connor Murphy,’ and Ciara Alyse Harris as ‘Alana Beck.’
Staying alive on Broadway is a very hard task. A musical production has actors, directors, play writers, stage managers, and staff working arduously and with passion to make it come to life, but unfortunately the show must come to an end, sometimes sooner than expected.