The movie adaptation of the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” opens Friday. Gilda and I saw “Dear Evan Hansen” off Broadway, at the Second Stage Theater, in 2016. Like so many we were exhilarated by the play’s treatment of mental illness and youth suicide, as well as the superb cast led by Ben Platt as Evan Hansen.
Shortly thereafter the play moved to Broadway to outstanding reviews. It received nine Tony Award nominations, winning six, one for Platt as best actor in a musical, best featured actress, best musical, best original score, best book and best orchestrations.
Playing the teenage Evan Hansen since 2014, Platt coincidentally turns 28 on Friday. There is no guarantee that transposing this intimate yet topical story of teenage angst to the silver screen will be a success. There are too many musicals that are off key as film. “Cats,” anyone?
I’m betting “Dear Evan Hansen” is not one of those misguided adaptations.
I’ve been to Broadway musicals since 1959 when I was 10, seeing a production of “Take Me Along,” an adaptation of Eugene O’Neills’s “Ah, Wilderness,” starring Jackie Gleason, Walter Pidgeon and Robert Morse. I’ve been fortunate to see some classic shows with their original casts—Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet in “Camelot;” Zero Mostel in “Fiddler on the Roof,” Richard Kiley in “Man of La Mancha,” Ron Moody and Georgia Brown in “Oliver!,” Lin-Manuel Miranda in “In the Heights,” to name a handful—and revivals, including Yul Brynner in “The King and I.”
Here are my picks of the best filmed adaptations of Broadway musicals:
My Fair Lady
West Side Story
Fiddler on the Roof
The Pajama Game
The Sound of Music
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Little Shop of Horrors
Annie Get Your Gun
The King and I
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
The Music Man
Guys and Dolls
Kiss Me Kate