‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Was Basically The ‘Hamilton’ Of The Tonys This Year

The Tonys waved back. 

?Dear Evan Hansen? was awarded Best Musical at the Tony Awards on Sunday night, surprising practically nobody, but delighting everyone. The cast, including break out star and newly minted Tony Winner Ben Platt also performed the musical?s central number ?Waving Through A Window.?

Accepting the award was producer Stacey Mindich, who highlighted the show?s central theme about wanting to belong in her speech. 

Earlier in the evening, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul picked up the Tony award for Best Original Score, while Rachel Bay Jones earned one for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Steven Levenson also won the Tony for Best Book, and Alex Lacamoire walked away with Best Orchestrations.

It wasn?t the total sweep of the Tonys as compared to ?Hamilton: An American Musical,? which picked up 11 awards at the last year?s ceremony, but the musical nabbed six awards at the end of the night ? the most for one production this year.

From the minds of ?La La Land? songwriters Pasek and Paul, the critically acclaimed musical tells the story of a lonely teenager named Evan Hansen (Platt) struggling with severe social anxiety and the fallout of a classmate?s suicide. When Hansen is mistaken for a friend of the deceased, he becomes a viral internet sensation ? the show features a running social media feed on stage ? as he finds comfort and acceptance in the family of the student he never actually knew. 

Platt has been particularly singled out among the stellar cast for his performance, which The New York Times offered was ?not likely to be bettered on Broadway this season.? The 23-year-old, who was best known for playing Benji Applebaum in the ?Pitch Perfect? films, took Broadway and Hollywood by storm (if the many stars who stop by his dressing room after the show is any indication), powerfully capturing the feelings of pain and isolation that come with being at teenager on stage.

The musical has particularly struck a chord with younger theatergoers, who?ve embraced the show?s depiction of mental health, a topic that hasn?t been spotlighted on Broadway with such care since?Next to Normal? closed in 2011. 

?When I get … the opportunity to meet fans after the show or hear from them online or via letters, they feel really comfortable divulging really personal things and opening up about their own struggles,? Platt told PBS NewsHour

?Certainly, with anxiety and with self-harm and with inability to connect and all sorts of things. And that?s an incredibly beautiful thing, and I want nothing more than for the show to encourage that and to be able to receive things like that.?

?The things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful,? the actor told fans on Sunday night.

This connection between the material and audiences has also made ?Dear Evan Hansen? an undeniable commercial success. The Broadway cast album debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard chart, becoming the highest debut by a cast recording since ?Camelot? placed at No. 4 in 1961. That?s right, ?Dear Evan Hansen? bested even ?Hamilton: An American Musical? in opening album sales. 

Brace yourselves everybody for the next great musical phenomenon. 

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