‘Dear Evan Hansen’ comes home to DC at Kennedy Center after origin at Arena Stage

This week, “Dear Evan Hansen” comes home to the nation’s capital for a run at the Kennedy Center from Aug. 30 to Sept. 25.

WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ at Kennedy Center (Part 1)

This week, “Dear Evan Hansen” comes home to the nation’s capital for a run at the Kennedy Center from Aug. 30 to Sept. 25. It originated in Washington DC at Arena Stage in 2015 before sweeping Broadway to win six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

“It’s so exciting that we’re getting to come back to DC,” Actress Alaina Anderson said.

The story follows awkward teenager Evan Hansen, whose single mom suggests he listen to his therapist and write letters to himself to cope with anxiety. When one of these letters is mistakenly found in the pocket of a suicidal classmate named Connor, it’s falsely interpreted as a suicide note from Connor to Evan as part of a “secret” relationship.

Enjoying the attention, Evan feeds the lie that he and Connor were best friends, wearing his name on his arm cast, while winning the love of Connor’s grieving parents and hip sister Zoe (Anderson). Meantime, a classmate helps him launch The Connor Project to raise money for Connor’s favorite orchard, capturing the imagination of social media.

“Evan at the beginning of the show is just so longing for human connection,” Anderson said. “Anybody who’s been 17 can relate to what a terrible time it can be in life. Desperation makes people do crazy things. He sort of gets caught up in a lie by accident… but as he gets carried away in it, his loneliness leads him to lean more into that.”



Accompanying Steven Levenson’s book are beloved songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the tunes for the movie musicals “La La Land” (2016) and “The Greatest Showman” (2017), this time orchestrated by Alex Lacamoire of “In the Heights” (2008) and “Hamilton” (2016). If that’s not an all-star musical lineup, I don’t know what it is.

“’You Will Be Found’ really encapsulates the core message of the show that you are not alone, this really beautiful, moving anthem,” Anderson said. “’Waving Through a Window’ is another one that starts off the show with Evan singing about where he is in life.”

Those “windows” come to symbolize our cell-phone screens with “tons of moving panels on the stage,” Anderson said. “It’s all kinds of things, Tweets and text messages. In the beginning of the show when the audience is filing in, there’s just like a Twitter feed situation going on that will scroll through and you hear all kinds of notification bell sounds.”

WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ at Kennedy Center (Part 2)

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