OPINION: Broadway turns to the big screens as Ben Platt reprises his role as Evan Hansen

Photo of “Dear Evan Hansen” poster courtesy of Wikipedia.com.

Jamie Blodgett | Contributing Writer

The following content contains references to mental health, mental illness and suicide. If you are suffering through mental illness please consider the following sources, and know that you are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255

CRISIS LINE Text ‘Help’ to 741741

The JED FOUNDATION: https://jedfoundation.org 

Child Mind Institute: https://childmind.org 

VISIT: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ to be connected with a trained crisis worker

Ben Platt reprises his tony award-winning role, Evan Hansen, as the Broadway musical takes to the big screen. Platt appeared in “The Sound of Music” (2006), “The Book of Mormon” (2011-2015), and later was given the lead role in “Dear Evan Hansen” (2016-2017, 2021). His list of accomplishments also includes appearing in the “Pitch Perfect” series (2012, 2017, 2019), “The Politician” (2019-2020), “Run This Town” (2019) and “Ricki and the Flash: (2015). Platt released his debut album “Sing to me instead” in 2019, and his second album “Reverie”  in 2021.

Platt’s Broadway role of Evan Hansen was loved by critics all over the world being noted to be called “historic” as well as “one of the greatest leading male performances ever seen in a musical.” His final performance of Hansen was done on Nov. 19, 2017. Three years later, Platt announced that he will be playing Evan in the film adaptation. 

For his Broadway rendition of Evan, Platt was awarded an Obie award (2016), Tony award (2017), Drama League award (2017), Lucille Lortel Award (2017), Broadway Audience award (2017), Grammy award (2018) and a Daytime Emmy Award (2018).

Perhaps the two most controversial topics in relation to the film are 27 year-old Platt playing a high schooler, and Platt’s father, Marc Platt, being the producer of the film. However, both of these critical hot topics neglect to focus on the importance of the subject matter highlighted in the film. At the core of the story, significant things are touched on in relation to the nature of grief and the importance of mental health as well as the response to tragedy.

“Dear Evan Hansen” follows a high school student who is isolated and embarks on a journey within himself when a letter he wrote falls in the hands of a couple who is grieving the loss of their son, Connor, who took his own life. Evan then falls for Connor’s sister, played by Kaitlyn Denver, and acts the role of Connor’s best friend, despite only having one interaction with him before his passing. The portrayal of Connor in the film adaptation is done by Colton Ryan, who was also Platt’s understudy on broadway. 

“Dear Evan Hansen” comes to film during National Suicide Prevention Month, a time centered around informing the public on the signs of suicide, prevention and resources available to you.

Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, president and medical director of the non-profit, Child Mind Institute, wrote an article reflecting on the importance of a film like “Dear Evan Hansen.”

“We need more stories about how it’s OK to hurt, it’s OK to be honest about it, it’s OK to ask for help,” read a headline by Koplewicz. “Stories that show there aren’t quick fixes.” 

It is estimated that 1 in 5 of children in the United States go through a learning or a mental health disorder/illness, but as many of us know, numbers don’t touch ones’ heart like a story does. That is why the tale of “Dear Evan Hansen” takes such an important role coming out in not only the time of a pandemic but also during a time of so many unknowns in our country.

“Dear Evan Hansen” can be seen in theaters near you now.

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