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Overview of the Dear Evan Hansen Deluxe Album

Corrine Olson, Blueprint Staff

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“A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in,” is what the musical Dear Evan Hansen is about. It tackles issues of teenage depression, anxiety, and suicide, while still managing to make the watcher laugh, as well as cry.

At approximately midnight, November 2nd, the Dear Evan Hansen writers and cast streamed the Deluxe Album Listening Party on the show’s YouTube channel. This livestream not only debuted music videos and the librettos (written by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, and Alex Lacamoire) of some pre-released cut songs like, “In The Bedroom Down the Hall” and “Part of Me,” but was also introduced songs like, “Obvious or Hiding in Your Hands.”

Some cut songs, such as Evan’s family friend, Jared’s, song “Goin’ Viral,” weren’t included in this stream, but the songs that were released were arguably enough to make up for it. Let me tell you what they’re about:

Taylor Trensch as Evan Hansen (Photo from Playbill.com) 

Obvious,” sung by Taylor Trensch

This was the precursor to one of my favorite songs in the musical. Evan Hansen is telling his crush what her dead brother ‘said’ he liked about her, which is actually what he thinks about her. In this demo-like version, with the cheerful piano and guitar, Evan is a lot less awkward when talking to the girl, which is very-unlike the character, and added some laughs to the song that soon would replace this one, “If I Could Tell Her.” The song is about how sometimes, people won’t tell you how much they appreciate you or how important you are to them because, “why go stating the obvious?” but stresses that these words still should be said. People can forget how much they matter to others, but this song tells you that even if you think you’re alone, you are just missing the obvious love that others have for you. I like the song they replaced it with better, both as a song, and since it fits Evan’s character, but this song is definitely worth listening to.

Mallory Bechtel from the new Requiem music video (Photo from Broadway.com)

Hiding in Your Hands,” sung by Mallory Bechtel

This song is sung by the female lead, and Evan’s love interest, Zoe Murphy. The set-up is her in her room, strumming a guitar – or ukulele in this case – and expressing how she feels her life is like sight-reading music. The song starts out innocently, with a rather upbeat ukulele melody and her whistling, eventually singing ‘la da da da.’ But then you’re spun into the chorus, which shows the listener that Zoe’s life isn’t what outsiders perceive, and that she feels like she has to fake being happy in her ‘perfect’ family and hide her pain. The reason this song was cut, was because the writers decided that Zoe needed to focus more on her abusive brother, and instead made “Requiem,” that focuses on how her entire family is dealing with Connor Murphy’s (her brother’s) suicide. This song also bears resemblance to “Waving Through A Window,” in which Evan Hansen is singing about how he feels cut off and isolated from everyone in his life, and in “Hiding in Your Hands,” Zoe is singing how she feels the need to hide her true feelings to fit in hers. The vocals are amazing, and the songwriters point out their favorite musical moments in the piece. They also praise Mallory Bechtel, calling her an amazing singer, despite having just graduated high school.

Taylor Trensch and Alex Boniello in the new music video (Photo from Broadwayworld.com)

Disappear” (Acoustic), sung by Taylor Trensch and Alex Boniello

A different version of this song was in the show, but this music video stars Taylor Trensch and Alex Boniello, and is a bit slower and less busy than the final version. A problem with showing musical songs to friends, is that not everyone is able to catch onto the storyline, with names being thrown around in the songs and dialogue that can confuse someone who isn’t familiar with the characters. In “Disappear,” there is none, which makes this a much better song to share with others, as the main concept of the song is still very much there – the important message saying that everyone deserves to be remembered and matters. Another song that has done something like this is, “It’s Quiet Uptown” on the Hamilton Mixtape, which was a letdown for many of my friends and I, since even though it’s sung beautifully, it still manages to be confusing – taking a song that an entire cast is supposed to sing and replacing it with just Kelly Clarkson doesn’t work. “Disappear” is very clever as to cut many unnecessary parts and have it as a duet between Evan Hansen (Taylor Trensch) and his vision of Connor Murphy (Alex Boniello), which simplifies it just enough to be understood while still telling the story.

Rachel Bay Jones and Jennifer Laura Thompson (Photo from Broadwayworld.com)

In The Bedroom Down the Hall” (Demo), sung by Rachel Bay Jones and Jennifer Laura Thompson

During this song’s new libretto, the authors tell you how much they fought to keep this song in the musical, and you quickly realize why. Sung by the original Broadway actresses for Heidi Hansen (Rachel Bay Jones) and Cynthia Murphy (Jennifer Laura Thompson), this number is about Evan Hansen and Connor Murphy mothers grieving for and remembering how all they wanted to do was be their for their sons, and how they feel it somehow wasn’t enough. During the tear-jerking piece, you can feel the anguish and hopelessness of the characters as they lament about the estrangement of their sons. You hear that they don’t know what they did wrong, since all they wanted was for them to be happy. The songwriters talked about how the over permissive nature of some parents could lead to this, though it was not included in the final show. In the end, they had to cut it only because it took away from Cynthia moving on from Connor’s death, and couldn’t advance the plot. The soft piano and guitar that become almost-playful during the chorus before slowly darkening are perfect for the demo piece. Out of all of these songs, this is the song I think was the most beautifully written, and has the most emotion poured into all of the lyrics by the wonderful singers, and if you really want to cry, I’d suggest watching this animatic of the song, made by Chirimo, on YouTube.

The August 2018 Dear Evan Hansen Broadway Cast (Photo from the Facebook page)

Part of Me,” sung by the Dear Evan Hansen August 2018 Broadway Cast

One of the most inspiring and uplifting songs of Dear Evan Hansen is almost undoubtedly “You Will Be Found” (by the Dear Evan Hansen Original Broadway Cast). During this song, Evan is giving a speech to the school about how “you are not alone.” As long as you reach out for help, someone will help you. Someone records it, and it’s spread everywhere. People from all over the country discover Connor Murphy’s story and start reaching out to thank Evan for sharing his message with the world. In “Part of Me,” the song is a bit more cynical, as the writers put it, instead of starting on the gentle piano chords in “You Will Be Found,” it starts with a mysterious and quick melody that’s repeated throughout the piece. In this version, the same general message of no one being alone is told, as well as the darker truth that everyone in the community is using Connor’s death to “share the hurt and heartache” that they all felt and get more attention for themselves (which of course, Evan is doing already). This is especially touched on in the end, when Evan Hansen (Taylor Trensch) is presumably about to tell his crush, Zoe Murphy (Mallory Bechtel), the truth about him and Connor not truly knowing each other, but Zoe interrupts him by stating that “You make me feel closer to him,” and he stops, and sings the last, eerie “A part of me…” and the song ends.

(Photo from Billboard.com)

Waving Through a Window,” sung by Katy Perry

I’m not really one for covers of songs if they change it as much as Katy Perry does in this; they add to the drums in this song, giving it a more march-like and pop feel than the original “Waving Through a Window.” She sings the song like Ben Platt does for the most part, but is able to take more creative liberties, such as drawing some words out longer for emphasis, and add echoes and harmonies. I especially liked the echo they added on “Is anybody waving back at me?” and the backing vocals added at the end of the piece, because it’s like she’s calling out into a tunnel she can’t see the light at the end of. As the song progresses to the chorus, the song is given more synths, which makes me think of the original purpose of this song and how it’s meant to symbolize social media and phones (hence Waving Through a Window). I have to say this song is not bad, though no one can beat the force and emotion Ben Platt is able to portray as Evan Hansen singing this song about being unable to fit in.

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Overview of the Dear Evan Hansen Deluxe Album