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What to Expect from ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

Your favorite Broadway musical is finally taking to the screen.
Dear Evan Hansen Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures
By  · Published on August 9th, 2021

Welcome to Great Expectations, a recurring series in which we break down the most essential information about an upcoming movie or show. In this edition, we look at what you can expect from — and where you can watch — the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen.

In 2016, the musical Dear Evan Hansen opened on Broadway, and its exceptional performances paired with infectious tracks by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul led it to immediately taking the world by storm. The show was then nominated for nine Tony Awards. It won six, including those for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Actor in a Leading Role. Now, the show is ready to finally transfer its magic onto the silver screen.

The movie version of Dear Evan Hansen is being directed by Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), and written by Steven Levenson, who wrote the book for the original musical and has also proven his screenwriting abilities with Fosse/Verdon.

Here’s everything you need to know about Dear Evan Hansen:

Dear Evan Hansen Release Date (and Where to Watch)

Dear Evan Hansen is set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. From there, the movie releases in theaters on September 24, 2021, via Universal Pictures.

It is unclear when the film will be available to stream in the US. But its initial digital release date, for a prestige VOD rental, will either be seventeen or thirty-one days after it opens. Universal’s deal with theaters is determined by its opening weekend box office gross. It stays exclusive to cinemas longer if it does more than $50 million in its debut. So look out for our box office analysis on September 27th to see the outcome. For now, you might want to look out for when tickets go on sale.

Dear Evan Hansen Cast

The cast of Dear Evan Hansen includes a blend of Hollywood actors we know and love, exciting relative newcomers, and even one person who starred in the show. Ben Platt, who plays the role of Evan Hansen, also played him in the original Broadway cast. His performance on stage scored him an Emmy and a Grammy. And he became the youngest person to ever win a Tony for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical at just twenty-three years old.

Also in the main cast: Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart) as Zoe Murphy, Ben’s love interest; Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give) as Alana Beck; Oscar-winner Julianne Moore (Magnolia) as Evan’s mom, Heidi Hansen; Oscar-nominee Amy Adams (Arrival) as Connor’s mom, Cynthia Murphy; Danny Pino (Cold Case) as Connor’s dad, Larry Murphy; Nik Dodani (Atypical) as Jared Kalwani; and Colton Ryan (Uncle Frank) as Connor Murphy.

The supporting players include DeMarius Copes as Oliver, Liz Kate as Gemma, Isaac Cole Powell as Rhys, Avery Bederman as Isabelle, Gerald Caesar as Josh, Tommy Kane as Greg, Marvin Leon as Skye, Hadisha Eshé as Cherise, Julia Chen Myers as Naomi, Mariana Alverez as Mrs. G., and Swift Rice as Mr. Howard.

The Plot of Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen is partly inspired by true events. Based on the hit Broadway show, the movie tells the story of Evan (Platt), a severely awkward high-schooler. To help alleviate some of his social anxiety, he writes an inspiring letter to himself. The letter falls into the hands of Connor (Ryan), who shortly thereafter kills himself.

Connor’s parents find the letter and assume that their son wrote it. They are overjoyed to discover that their late son had what appeared to be such a gratifying friendship with Evan. Seeing their happiness, Evan is unable to confess that he and Connor didn’t actually know each other. And he subsequently inserts himself further and further into Connor’s life and past — and not without consequence.

Fans of the musical will be happy to hear that, for the most part, Dear Evan Hansen will be faithful to its source material. Platt revealed one main difference, however, in an interview with Vanity Fair:

“Other than the fact that there are two new songs, [it] is a kind of extended third act of the film in which we get to see a little bit more of Evan’s repentance and redemption and the work that he does subsequently to make amends and really get to know who Connor was and try to help the family heal.”

Watch the Trailer

It’s hard to adapt a beloved stage musical into a film. It’s not easy to ensure that it won’t lose the magic it has when it is performed live. Fortunately, it looks like Dear Evan Hansen doesn’t have that problem. This is likely due to the fact that the movie was produced by people so close to the original musical. Based on the trailer, you can expect the film to be engaging, inspiring, and chock-full of superb musical numbers.

Watch the trailer for Dear Evan Hansen and see for yourself:

Why Ben Platt Felt He Had to Play Evan in the Film

When the trailer for Dear Evan Hansen came out, it caused quite a stir on the internet. Many fans were shocked by the choice of casting Platt, claiming that, at twenty-seven, he looks way too old to play a high-schooler.

But in an interview with Cinema Blend, Platt argues that he is the only one who could have really done the role justice:

“I created the role and I workshopped it and I did readings of it and I did the out-of-town production and the off-Broadway production. I really built it with the writers and a lot of me, my rhythms, my voice and who I am is embedded in the character. That’s the one character that I do feel has become mine.”

And for better or for worse, this will be Platt’s final appearance as Evan Hansen. He told Vanity Fair:

“It was very cathartic to put a stamp on each scene and each song as we went along and say goodbye to it individually, and really know that this time, for sure — without the, like, looming promise of an adaptation — this was really going to be the last time.”

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Aurora Amidon spends her days running the Great Expectations column and trying to convince people that Hostel II is one of the best movies of all time. Read her mostly embarrassing tweets here: @aurora_amidon.