Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich with Justin Paul, Steven Levenson, and Benj Pasek

Published: 9th October 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Penguin
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non Fiction/Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Dear Evan Hansen,
Today’s going to be an amazing day and here’s why…

When a letter that was never meant to be seen by anyone draws high school senior Evan Hansen into a family’s grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong. He just has to stick to a lie he never meant to tell, that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.

Suddenly, Evan isn’t invisible anymore–even to the girl of his dreams. And Connor Murphy’s parents, with their beautiful home on the other side of town, have taken him in like he was their own, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son from his closest friend. As Evan gets pulled deeper into their swirl of anger, regret, and confusion, he knows that what he’s doing can’t be right, but if he’s helping people, how wrong can it be?

A simple lie leads to complicated truths in this big-hearted coming-of-age story of grief, authenticity and the struggle to belong in an age of instant connectivity and profound isolation.

I was excited about this book for a number of reasons: the first being that I could have a sticky beak at the musical before I saw it in person, second, it gives me hope that maybe more musicals could become books so for those of us who can’t always see these wonderful Broadway shows can still experience them if they’re going to refuse to release a copy on DVD or bring it to my country.

By the time this is posted I would have seen the musical on Broadway (!!) so aside from seeing this story play out, I am hoping to match up the song lyrics with the correct tune compared to what I tried to conjure in my head (I know I could listen to the soundtrack, but I’m going to go in blind music wise). Even without seeing the actual musical this book gives a vivid and detailed story to enjoy. Much like The Cursed Child play the dialogue is there so are the stage directions and lyrics so you can see how it would play out on stage.

In terms of the actual story, it is a case of one small lie becoming something big and uncontrollable. I experienced some anxiety reading this because you know what Evan does is wrong, and just waiting for it to fall around his feet is stressful, but looking past that the story is a bit heartbreaking and is about looking for a place to belong and discovering who you are. If I thought about it too much I hated Evan a little, but I suppose you’re meant to see it from his point of view, and I did, but I still couldn’t believe the things he does in this.

I’ve heard the music for this is amazing and reading the lyrics I can see how that’s the case. There is a lot of emotion and dealing with a lot of sensitive and personal things. There is a suicide and drug use but both are referenced and not shown.

If you are unlikely to get a chance to see this musical I highly recommend this book as a chance to experience the story. Maybe you could even pay the soundtrack alongside when the songs come up to almost get the full experience.

You can purchase Dear Evan Hansen via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Wordery | Angus and Robinson | Dymocks

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon | Audible

 

Something Rotten! A Shakespeare Musical

SR-FB

“The way he feigns humility when all he does is gloat
The way he wears that silly frilly collar ‘round his throat
The poster child for why no one should ever procreate
Let me make a shorter list so I can give it to you straight:
Every little thing about Shakespeare
Is what I hate!
 – Nick Bottom, Something Rotten

I am so excited to finally talk about this musical, I have been so patient for so long and I’m obsessed with it so it was a real effort. I wanted to get the general intros done first before the good stuff and now that time has arrived!

Something Rotten! is a musical comedy with a book by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick and music and lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick. It’s also from the director of Aladdin and the co-director of The Book of Mormon. The show describes itself as a mash-up of 16th century Shakespeare and 21st century Broadway and tells the story of brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom (Brian d’Arcy James and John Cariani), two playwrights in 1595 stuck in the shadow of Will Shakespeare (Christian Borle) who is a rock star of the Renaissance. When soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus (Brad Oscar) foretells the next big thing in theatre, the Bottom brothers set out to write the world’s very first musical!

The show recently celebrated being on the stage for a year but I discovered it randomly on Tumblr a few months ago; I hadn’t even heard about it but from then on I was hooked. I searched the internet for as many clips and recordings I could find of the songs and within an hour I was so far down the rabbit hole of obsession I had found out all I could about it, was contemplating buying the soundtrack, and had reblogged and shared everything I could find in the tags.

With a small selection of music under my belt I proceeded to play it practically on repeat for days. After dragging myself away from it for a few weeks I was lured back because the songs were playing over and over in my head. I discovered that the entire soundtrack was on Spotify so that’s what’s been coming out of my speakers for the past week. Nonstop. It’s fabulous.

SR-twitterWhat is wonderful about this is not only are the songs ridiculously catchy and very funny, but the musical also does a brilliant job of sending up what life may have been like for Shakespeare with fans mobbing him and asking him to recite famous sonnet lines. He becomes the superstar of the Renaissance.

Shakespeare is a cocky and brilliant playwright and Nick Bottom is trying his hardest to become even a little bit as popular as Shakespeare. There are beautiful songs and heartfelt moments and hearing part of Sonnet 18 put into a rock song format is pretty awesome, not to mention the cracking song about how to make an omelette and the upbeat number on the Black Death.

Something Rotten! has so many fantastic numbers but one I love is where it mocks and celebrates musicals themselves. It’s a song filled with in-jokes and references and it is hilarious listening to musicals being explained to someone who’s never seen or heard of them before.

Even if all you get to hear is the cast recording you really get a feel for the story which is the joy of musicals, you can enjoy it without having to see the show, even though I’d give anything to be able to see it. I’ve included a bunch of links below including a few videos of performance which give you a sense of just how awesome it is.

Also, because fun facts are fun, in one of the songs, Right Hand Man, the phrase ‘in a pickle’ is used, but this was not actually coined in this form until Shakespeare wrote The Tempest in 1610.

rotten3

Links and Bits

Something Rotten! website | Pics and Videos

Wikipedia | Something Rotten! preview

Soundtrack on Spotify | Buy the soundtrack

Song performances

Bottom’s Gonna be on Top (On The View)

Welcome to the Renaissance (Show recording)

A Musical (At the Tonys)

God, I Hate Shakespeare (Lyric Video)

Hard to be the Bard (music video)