When I went: 14 January 2020
Location: Noel Coward Theatre, London
Performers: Sam Tutty (Evan Hansen), Lucy Anderson (Zoe Murphy), Rebecca McKinnis (Heidi Hansen), Lauren Ward (Cynthia Murphy), Doug Colling (Connor Murphy), Rupert Young (Larry Murphy), Jack Loxton (Jared Kleinman), Nicole Raquel Dennis (Alana Beck)
Creative team: Steven Levenson (book), Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (music and lyrics), Michael Greif (director), Danny Mefford (choreography), Alex Lacamoire (music supervisor and orchestrations), David Korins (scenic designer), Peter Nigrini (projection designer), Matt Smith (UK musical director), Annalisa Rossi (UK associate choreographer), Jon Emmanuel (UK associate director)
Approximate price: £80
Special points: Social media projections, moving scenes
Best bit: Sincerely, Me
If I could change one thing: Stronger / more memorable songs
I deliberately didn’t do much research on this musical before I saw it as I wanted to view it with a fresh pair of eyes. The first impression you get is of a musical trying to be ‘current’ and probably aimed at a younger audience, with the projections of scrolling social media posts on the set before the show even starts. This kind of technology-anchored device might mean the show ages quickly but the themes of loneliness and belonging and making a difference are timeless.
My overall impression was that the musical is sweet and meaningful and the lead character has charm and you root for him; he is an outcast, like the leads in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but very relatable in the mistakes he makes.
Although plenty of the scenes are moving and the music works well in context, I don’t think the songs were super-strong or memorable. The choreography was simple but did sometimes veer into ‘cheesy’ territory.
I think the show would benefit from a few more upbeat numbers or changes of tone rather than so many introspective guitar-led songs, especially in the second act, although I get that it is telling a story which has more than a tinge of melancholy to it and it did stay realistic and quite balanced throughout. The story itself is engaging and I think you do stay interested in what will happen to the characters.
Sam Tutty gave a really beautiful vocal performance, with great control and technical range. He was very believable as Evan and it would be great to see him in other shows after this. The supporting cast were great too, with Jack Loxton providing some welcome comic moments as Jared.
The younger cast were mostly quite new to West End shows so I hadn’t seen them before, but the creative time were more established. Danny Mefford choreographed Fun Home, David Korins also did the scenic design for Hamilton, Matt Smith was the musical director for School of Rock, and Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are pretty famous in the musical theatre world these days having written music and lyrics for films like La La Land and TV shows like Smash among other things.