When he reviewed the Broadway transfer of Dear Evan Hansen in December, Adam Feldman wrote: “Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s score, orchestrated by Alex Lacamoire, brims with tuneful and thoughtful songs that sound, as few Broadway songs do, like they could be on the radio tomorrow.” Well, it's doubtful that you’ll hear “Waving Through a Window” piped into the bodega anytime soon, but these excellent show tunes should be blasting from many a set of earbuds starting tomorrow. The Dear Evan Hansen original Broadway cast recording will be available digitally Friday and as a CD on February 24. Expect a Grammy nomination to follow in December. You can pre-order the album here. At midnight tonight (ET), join in on the listening party via the show's Facebook page.
The recording was executive produced by Grammy and Tony winner Alex Lacamoire (Hamilton, In The Heights) and produced by Paul and Pasek (Golden Globe winners recently nominated for two Oscars for their work on La La Land). The singers include the current Broadway cast: Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfuss, Rachel Bay Jones, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Mike Faist, Michael Park, Will Roland and Kristolyn Lloyd, and Michael Lee Brown, Garrett Long, Olivia Puckett, Colton Ryan and Asa Somers.
We got ahold of an advance copy, and it sounds crisp and as fully invested as you'd expect. Although Ben Platt carries the show with his tremulous, soulful pop tenor, you can't ignore the vocal thrills produced by Laura Dreyfuss as the fellow high-schooler Evan is crushing on, or Rachel Bay Jones's wry, impassioned performance as Evan's overworked, under-appreciated mother. Jones's late number, "So Big / So Small," a ballad for the heroic single mother, is a standout heartbreaker in a score full of emotional climaxes.
Lacamoire's rich, soaring orchestrations use plenty of strings to produce a lump in the throat (especially Act I finale "You Will Be Found"), but he can also use a solid piano line or guitar to support the actors.
The musical idiom of Dear Evan Hansen is a basic pop mélange which borrows from emo and rock (echoes of Coldplay now and then) with forays into up-tempo comic style. On the whole, it's a moody, brooding, tender collection of songs, one that rewards repeat visits. When we update our ranking of this century's best original Broadway cast recordings, this one just might make the cut.