Category Archives: reviews

Hudson Valley Professional Theater Rocks Tivoli

Constellations
by Wickham Boyle
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Oct 10, 2017

Constellations
“Constellations,” written by Nick Payne, bowed at the Royal Court Theater in London in 2012. It then had its American premiere at the Manhattan Theater Club in 2015 staring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson. It is roaring back to an upstate stage produced by the small, plucky Tangent Theater.

Tangent, a company founded in 2000, occupies a former Carpentry shop on a back alley in sleepy Tivoli, New York, but their production is anything but somnambulant. You enter the small space with seating for perhaps 50 and discover that for this production there is seating in the round, surrounding a floor painted with a swirling cosmos designed by Caitlynn Barett so skillfully realized by painter and artist Joel Griffith (and who happens to be Tivoli’s mayor). This is where the two-person play unfolds.

We find Roland, played masterfully by artistic director Michael Rhodes, and Marianne who, as embodied by Molly Parker Myers, spits great dialogue and provides an anchor for the sometimes-complicated work. This is a boy meets girl, sometimes falls in love, sometimes marries, sometimes health overwhelms them, but they keep moving forward.

He is a beekeeper; she is a cosmologist a purveyor of the principles of string theory, relativity, and quantum mechanics. They are perhaps an unlikely pair in a play written in an unusual, Groundhog Day style. This means that many scenes are played repetitively with twists and quirks, little differences designed to show that at any, and every moment in our lives situations could go this way or that.

If I knew more about the scientific theories pursued by Marianne I might be able to discourse on how the paths of stars, or the vibration of the spheres influences and changes the course in our lives, spinning new webs or universe. Or as they refer to in this play “the multi-verse.”

What we all can relate to, and this production does much to illuminate this, is that our lives are fragile and going left rather than right, being late for a train, or taking one course of action over another, eventually all strings together to create our lives. If we looked back, regarding our choices, and adjusting them, we might have envisioned or created a different us.

In this 70-minute work, which at times feels like a musical fugue where one trope overlaps another and then reappears slightly morphed, we begin to let go of a linear expectation for a theatrical encounter. This is tough stuff, the lines have to flow and lap like water kissing the shore and this little company has done a great job of presenting an evening that will shake audience members to reevaluate how their lives have come together in lesser and greater ways.

“Constellations” runs through October 22 at Tangent Carpenter Shop Theater, 60 Broadway, Tivoli, New York.
For information or tickets, call 845-230-7020 or visit tangent-arts.org

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The Principles of Uncertainty at BAM

Entertainment » Theatre
The Principles of Uncertainty
by Wickham Boyle
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Sep 29, 2017

The Principles of Uncertainty
What is the dance/theater work called “The Principles of Uncertainty” by John Heginbotham and Maira Kalman?

The Principles of Uncertainty

It is a calm, funny, hour-long evening filled with words, wonderful and quirky line drawings, a fake cake tossed stage left, soaring or soothing live music, and a lovely coterie of seven dancers all moving across the stage like the autumn leaves we wish were outside, rather than the soggy, sodden late summer that took our city hostage.

Maybe this still needs unpacking. Over the course of a year, the beloved author and illustrator Maira Kalman kept an online journal filled with words and her inimitable drawings for the New York Times. She called it “The Principles of Uncertainty.” The entries range from musings about the weather, the passing of time, useful objects, and the quotidian that enriches our lives.

John Heginbotham is a former Mark Morris dancer who began creating his own works shortly before retiring from the company in 2012. They met when Kalman designed the set for Morris’ “Four Saints in Three Acts” at the turn of the millennium. Together Kalman and Heginbotham set out to capture the shards of events, thoughts, and movements that knit together and make our lives.

Kalman and Heginbotham describe their work as “a basket of things we’ve fallen in love with,” and the evening is certainly that. There is a musical ensemble, which provides an original score composed, arranged, and curated by Brooklyn Rider and Colin Jacobsen of the Silk Road Ensemble. The music punctuates the dance as the four women and three men, all members of Dance Heginbotham, navigate across the floor and into boxes or hold an aquarium aloft so that a projected whale can swim inside.

The ensemble is costumed perfectly by Kalman, who also provides projected illustrations, other scenic pieces, and has even covered each seat with a muslin cover proffering kicky phrases like “a platter of frogs,” all rendered in her recognizable hand. In each program is a pretty pink painting of a potato and a reading list from both Kalman and Heginbotham. There is no detail ignored, and yet nothing is earthshaking.

The choreography is languid and lush and often humorous, as is the text, read by Kalman, who also does a tiny dance or two. All the elements unite to bring an evening to pitch perfect.

“The Principles of Uncertainty,” part of the BAM 2017 Next Wave Festival, runs through September 30 at BAM Fisher Space, 321 Ashland Place in Brooklyn. For tickets or information, call 718-636-4100 or visit http://www.BAM.org

Peter Pan Still Flying High at 70

For Peter Pan On Her 70th Birthday
by Wickham Boyle
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Sep 11, 2017

For Peter Pan On Her 70th Birthday
“For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday” is Sarah Ruhl’s third New York premiere at Playwrights Horizon, following “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” in 2008 and “Stage Kiss” in 2014. Ruhl, a two-time Pulitzer finalist and Tony-nominated writer, is a bit of a darling among the young thespian circle, and her plays rarely disappoint. Her newest is no exception.

The work opens with the ever-radiant and talented Kathleen Chalfant standing in front of the curtain speaking to the audience about her childhood playing Peter Pan in her hometown theater in America’s heartland. Honestly, for a few beats I didn’t know if this was a vamp-until-ready moment where the star comes out in a heartfelt way and connects to the audience.

Chalfant’s demeanor and her delivery is so easy, natural and warm that it was as if she was telling each of us, in a packed house, her personal tale. She was transported back to a girlhood where she flew across a stage, met Mary Martin, and was handed flowers by her usually taciturn father. We are charmed.

And then the curtain opens to reveal Chalfant as Ann, the eldest in a gaggle of five adult children, all nervously surrounding their father, as he lies dying in a hospital bed. The children are John, a wonderful Daniel Jenkins, Michael played strongly by Keith Reddin, and Wendy, the always luminous Lisa Emery (following the names as the Darling children in J.M. Barrie’s tale.) There is also another brother, Jim, who didn’t become a doctor but stayed home and took care of their father as he aged. He is wonderfully poignant as embodied by David Chandler.

The siblings take turns hovering. Wendy rubs and anoints her father’s feet; Michael and John both medical doctors read charts and kibitz about care and Ann tells stories and worries about every errant sound emanating from Ron Crawford, who plays the dying dad.

The kids discuss augmenting morphine to ease pain and also hasten death. They tell some stories about their youth and their parents. They miss their mom and the family dog. They sit in hospital chairs, or sleep fitfully on the floor. Behind them is a set that resembles what must be their childhood home.

When the father finally does pass, Ron Crawford rises from the bed and continues to act out some of the things being discussed, including playing with the long gone dog, the sparky and winsome Macy, a rescue dog from Oklahoma City.

This work unfolds in ninety minutes with no intermission, but there are breaks in the action where artfully the hospital furniture is wheeled to the side and the backdrop of the house becomes the home where after the wake the siblings sit and drink, except the youngest Wendy, who seems to be more sober in many facets of her life.

The range runs wildly from humorous recollections, to long held resentments, to confusions about their parents. This is the stuff of every family, but it is done well and we believe every speech and the actors are so suited to their characters, that it is as if we are eavesdropping on an actual family.

In and out of every recollection are specks of memory about Ann’s big role, which seemed to recur often, playing Peter Pan. As the third act opens the house has resolved itself, in a genius set by David Zinn and has become the Darling home in London and the adults we met earlier are in nighties and top hats, all the trappings of the beloved Darling children. Even Macy the dog returns as Nana for a glimpse into the reverie.

Ann has found an old trunk, and again in front of the curtain, she changes into her old Pan costume, allowing for time for the set to morph and for us to once again feel that intimate rush. It is this portion of the play that for this reviewer holds the meat and the emotional payoff. Again the siblings taunt and tease each other, but the gist is about how to fly, how to be buoyantly happy so that you rise into the air and also age.

We all struggle with the unresolved issues from childhood, last week, decades ago, or what we might do wrong tomorrow, so letting go, filling our hearts and minds with lovely and lovelier thoughts is a tall order. And yet on the stage of Playwrights Horizon in the middle of 42nd Street, we watch adults born aloft, swinging, flying across the stage because they could finally find their “lovely thoughts.” This play is well imagined and helmed by director Les Water’s, who also steers the artistry of the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville.

As the siblings argue in the Peter Pan dreamscape, including a masterful appearance by Peter Pan played by David Chandler, about who has grown up, who hasn’t and why not, we all confront and imagine the places where we have missed being an adult, or might relish a tad more childishness. In the end we are all inching toward a certain ending, the alarm clock is ticking, and that either prompts buckling down or cutting loose. For some it is a mixture of flight, fancy and seriousness. Sarah Ruhl mixes an excellent concoction.

“For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday” runs through October 1 at Playwrights Horizons’ Mainstage Theater, 416 West 42nd Street in New York City. For information or tickets, call 212-564-1235 or visit http://www.playwrightshorizons.org

New York Theater Reviews
This story is part of our special report titled “New York Theater Reviews.” Want to read more? Here’s the full list.

Charles Busch and Tom Judson, My Kinda SIxties

Charles Busch: My Kinda ’60s
by Wickham Boyle
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Sep 6, 2017

Charles Busch

Charles Busch teamed up with Tom Judson to heat up the stage at Helsinki in the Hudson Valley with “Charles Busch: My Kinda ’60s.” Busch, whether in drag or not, with Tom Judson at the piano occasionally crooning along or taking a song himself, make an astonishingly charming, heartwarming evening. And we certainly all could use that right now.

Judson makes a piano trill and vibrate with his individual arrangements, crafted to both suit Busch’s song styling and his ability to pluck at our heartstrings while tickling our fancy. This evening was designed as a look at the songs of the sixties, and even though as Busch expounded often, “We have never performed this song!,” the duo was marvelous. It was a triumph of an evening.

Busch enters in an emerald green brocade suit with rhinestone buttons all aglitter, then asked the crowd, “Too butch?” We all adore Busch whether in drag or as in this case, “with a little mascara, maybe a false eyelash and this new suit.” He kicked the evening off with a mélange of “Your Zowie Face” and “Look at that Face, ” and it made for a raucous, happy start.

Club Helsinki is located in the now bustling and chic Hudson, New York, a two-hour train ride up the Hudson, which seems to have become the darling of New Yorkers and international visitors. The club is in a wonderfully remodeled industrial building that has great acoustics and features table service of Cajun-inspired dining or a large bar serving good drinks and snacks.

From the perch at a table center stage, the view was perfect and the evening exploded with Burt Bacharach’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” which Busch rendered in heart wrenching sadness. He then segued to The Beatles because, as Busch’s banter suggested, there is nothing more ’60s for him and many of us, than the Beatles. Again, Judson’s arrangement of “Here There and Everywhere” was pitch-perfect.

The evening rolled along with songs by Alan Jay Lerner, Leslie Bricusse, Sondheim, Peggy Lee, and a stunning version of “Surabaya Johnny” by Brecht and Weill. A highlight was a duet that had a rocky start, as Judson’s mike clicked in and out and so the solution was for Busch to move over to the piano bench and they shared a mike for Mancini’s “Two for the Road.” Squished together at the piano, they unleashed a joyful rendition that brought down the house and finally gave the techie a chance to figure out the sound situation.

The evening consisted of 15 numbers, a full album of songs that ended with an arrangement of Bob Dylan’s, “The Times They Are a Changin.” In this version, Judson explained that he morphed each stanza to modulate the monotony of Dylan’s original release where it was exactly the same for the many stanzas of what we now know are Dylan’s Nobel Prize-winning poems. The way the song was presented, in song styling and musically, allowed the poignancy of the music and lyrics to shine through. And although bittersweet for those of us who heard the anthem in the ’60s and thought we were changing the world, it is still a rallying call never to forget that we must continue to be vigilant and believe.

There was as, Busch called it, a fake encore, as they didn’t leave the stage and we all would have called them back for as much as they would offer. That encore was Raskin’s “Those Were the Days,” where the audience can be rallied to clap and cheer.

Busch and Judson are off to Spain for their next tour; for more information, visit charlesbusch.com.

“Charles Busch: My Kinda ’60s” was held on September 2 at Club Helsinki, 405 Columbia St., Hudson, NY, 12534. For information on upcoming shows, call 518.828.4800 or visit https://helsinkihudson.com/

Wallace Shawn’s Talk House

Evening at the Talk House
by Wickham Boyle
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Feb 17, 2017

I have seen many of Wally Shawn’s plays from the tiny to the monumental. I have attended them as I had friends and theater colleagues who were involved in the productions. I often felt I might not be bright enough to fully understand all the nuance, intellectual excursions, sexual innuendos and comedy that inhabited his plays like “Aunt Dan and Lemon,” “Our Late Night,” “The Designated Mourner,” “The Fever,” or “Marie and Bruce.” But I persisted, as I was always challenged and provoked. “Evening at the Talk House” is no different.

Jill Eikenberry, Larry Pine, Claudia Shear, Michael Tucker in Wallace Shawn's 'Evening at the Talk House'

Jill Eikenberry, Larry Pine, Claudia Shear, Michael Tucker in Wallace Shawn’s ‘Evening at the Talk House’  

 

The cast is stellar and the work opens with a cocktail party in progress. As we enter audience members are offered sweets and a cocktail resembling either Windex or a coral-colored weak version of Tang. We shuffle in, and are not given programs, (I usually like that as there it eliminates rustling, but sometimes as a reviewer I like to know who is doing what to whom.)

The actors amble off except Wallace Shawn, looking as if he’d been recently beaten, wearing pajamas and a tweed sport coat. He sits to the side and Matthew Broderick, in a too-tight velvet jacket, begins a very long monologue, basically telling us what will happen.

We are at an inn called the Talk House. We are there for a reunion of sorts to celebrate the tenth anniversary of a play written by Broderick’s character Robert. The speech is long and nearly mind-dulling. Again, is this the purpose; to lull us into thinking that the entire evening is about exploring the complaints and indulgent musings of another privileged, middle-age, white man?

The work continues with a discourse between Shawn’s character Dick, (honestly, no one can be named Dick without some sinister side to him, right?) and Robert. It seems at one point that the aging Dick was in Robert’s circle, but they haven’t seen each other in years. Robert abandoned theater work, bemoaning that as an art form it is nearly dead. This elicits titters from a live audience.

Robert moved from theater to television and during this play everyone name-drops silly pretend shows like “Mouse Chatter” and the names of fictitious producers, writers, and actors, which must have been such a blast to invent. Dick begins his monologue revealing to Robert that his bruises are the result of a beating he received at the hands of his friends. He says that it wasn’t unpleasant and he enjoyed much of it.

They both keep intoning. “Where are the old days? They used to be great.” This is certainly a parody on the Trumpian notion of make anything great again, meaning, bring back the old days when straight white men were in power and held in a place of undeserved reverence.

As the two former colleagues banter, the rest of the party arrives. There is Tony, the always dry, witty Larry Pine who has been in Shawn’s work since the get-go and was an original member of Andre Gregory’s groundbreaking Manhattan Project. Tom is now a famous actor and a beloved TV star.

Jill Eikenberry and her actual husband Michael Tucker play Nellie the innkeeper and Bill, a well-heeled producer. The cast includes John Epperson as Ted, a composer from the play being feted. Many viewers know Epperson as his stunning drag character Lypsinka. It was a treat to see him with just a hint of eyeliner and his own lanky self, holding court both at the piano and doing some campy acting.

The cast is rounded out by Claudia Shear, a performer who wears many hats including a writer and actor; and finally the only young, non-white, cast member, Annapurna Sriram, who works with Jane the innkeeper and reveals plenty of secret talents as the party heats up.

At first the play seems like an investigation of sophomoric indulgence regarding older, white, privileged, rich folks assessing their lives as swathes of things gone marvelously well, or a tumble into heinous failure. But as the platters of shrimp cocktail and towering cheese trays are consumed and cocktails morph from scotch to champagne, a quiet dystopic trope invades and like a body snatcher appears, and slinks back into a candlelit discussion of who slept with whom, who is crazy and oh yes, by the way, who has signed up to be either a murderer or a “targeter.”

The admission by Annette, the former costume designer, that what she really does for her living is “target” those who should be eliminated. She believes she is making her country safe by having those she deems dangerous in Malaysia or Indonesia killed for the greater good. It is the biggest game version of collateral damage ever imagined and it is chilling. And if you dozed off, like some of the folks snuffling around me, you might have missed this first militaristic confession. You see the play then closes ranks and we again talk about TV shows and who is alive or dead.

And then the darkness descends. Ted the piano man announces that he too dabbles in working as a targeter and while it brings good money, he also feels he is helping his country. You don’t need, as Dylan, postulated, “a weatherman to see which way the wind blows.” This can easily be the intellectualized, dramatized extension of Trump’s exclusionary politics.

In reality we have: the wall, the travel ban, the ginning up of hatred of one group against another and the politics of fear of the brown people vs. the bring back the real America, white folks. We all see it everyday and it is augmenting.

So this play, written before the Trumpian rise and premiered in London in fall 2015, sensed what might be a plausible arc of fear leading to the murder of anyone we deem dangerous. And why wouldn’t regular underemployed folks not take up the mantle of murder in the name of protectionism and safety?

We learn that the only one in the group who actually has stuck targets with poison pins is the youngest member of the group. In a stage lit only by candles, we see young Jane and rich Robert huddled drunk on the couch talking about their affair, which seems as if it might have tended closer to rape. Robert recalls it as a wonderful interlude and yet Jane says it was horrible and she now only thinks about killing herself. They embrace. And Jane continues to ramble on about suicide.

Off stage we hear cries from Nellie. They are a rhythmic patter, which earlier we learned were the specific death rattle of a new disease attacking many in this thespian circle. The screams mount and yes of course we learn that right there in the very safe space of the Talk House, where the table is littered with crystal and a celebratory cakes, the ever kind and generous Nellie is dead. Lights out.

The cast takes a bow, each holding a votive candle and we walk out to be greeted by our programs. The evening is neither uplifting nor a place to forget about the horrible swirl that is our personal political caldron of late, but as usual Shawn’s work does provide grist for every brain cell you have and then asks you to look for a few more.

“Evening at the Talk House” runs through March 12 at The Signature Theater, 480 W 42 Street. For tickets or information, call 212-244-7529 or visit http://www.thenewgroup.org/evening-at-the-talk-house.html

Othello

Othello
by Wickham Boyle
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Dec 23, 2016

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We live in a time of treachery, tyranny and deception when false news, mendacity and racism rule our rulers and cloud our lives. Welcome to “Othello.” Written in 1603 Shakespeare’s Moor and his goad Iago are an equal pack of villains who are manipulated by hatred and insecurity and then act upon gossip and concocted scenarios to create a world filled with havoc and writhing bodies.

Are you ready for this? The New York Theater Workshop’s excellent version of “Othello” will leave you wrung out, speechless and begging for more. This modern-day production converted the theater on East Fourth Street into an environmental set of roughshod, wood-hewn army barracks. Andrew Lieberman’s set announces itself before you walk in, as the aroma of fresh cut pine wafts through the air.

Once inside, a conscript lies on his bunk, comprised of mattresses tossed willy-nilly on the floor of the stage. He plucks his guitar. Another soldier joins him, as do more, including a former actual Vet who removes his prosthesis and lolls on his mattress, all this as the audience wanders in to find their seats and be instructed by the eager ushers to carefully stow your own gear and keep aisles open. The play will rush past you at times, so do not step into the center of the field of play.

The room is brightly lit and then darkness falls and lingers and we hear murmurs from the soldiers and see them furtively looking at their electronic devices, which for an instant light their faces and portions of the room. The play begins as the Duke, played with grand nature diction by David Wilson Barnes, unfolds a portion of the premise.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure and terror of reading or seeing “Othello” recently, let me attempt a short synopsis. Othello is a Moorish ( meaning black and Muslim) captain in the Venetian army. The play opens in the midst of an argument between Roderigo, who is a wonderful, lisping comic diversion in this production (Matthew Maher) and our master villain Iago, played by Daniel Craig.

Craig enters, almost unnoticed in khaki shorts, a ball cap and a ratty green T-shirt. He speaks and the room vibrates with his command. This first scene shows that Iago has many fish to fry with his cunning. He has convinced Roderigo to sell everything he owns to get money so that Roderigo can woo Desdemona and marry her. When Roderigo learns that Desdemona has married Othello, a general whom Iago serves as a lowly ensign, a fight ensues and the brawls continue.

Iago is juggling, pitting men and woman against each other. He entreats his wife Emilia, the strong, snappy Marsha Stephanie Blake, to unwittingly plot against her mistress, the limpid-eyed, lovelorn Desdemona, Rachel Brosnahan. The audience titters as Iago is referred to endlessly as honest Iago. We know what lurks in his heart and brain. We watch as Iago sets up a sweet-faced Cassio, played so well by Finn Wittrock, to be the imagined lover to Othello’s wife Desdemona.

As we watch the mark, Othello be set up by Iago, we observe the tyranny of false news setting a fire of hatred among individuals and a community. David Oyelowo as Othello is a pillar of ebony perfection. He takes the stage at first as a man beset with love and we watch him devolve into a monster infected by “the green-eyed monster” of jealousy.

In the scene where we see him lose his countenance the lighting designer, Jane Cox, lights the stage in green LED lights and uses the light of cell phones and devices to create a ghostly pallor. At times with the stage lit by devices rather than theatrical lighting I wanted to see more clearly, but I applaud the creative use and the metaphor of all the machine lights in our modern life that flood us and yet perhaps divert us from the real life and light around us.

And so the story unfolds. The audience returns after intermission and the actors roar back onto the stage and alas we know what will greet us. Desdemona is murdered, strangled viciously by her Moorish husband; all the while Iago is setting about killing Cassio, Roderigo and finally shoots his own wife Emilia. Cassio’s sweetheart is dispatched (the very affable Bianca played by Nikki Massoud, an actor I hope to see more of in the future). The floor is littered with bodies and blood. The screams have subsided and yet there is more.

Craig and Oyelowo surge at each other wrestling, thrashing on the floor, certainly earning the knee and elbow pads worn for this very athletic production. Then Othello finds a knife hidden under his mattress and stabs himself, leaving only the wretched Iago heaving in horror. The soldiers cover the bodies and silence descends. Iago moves across the stage and touches Othello’s back and we are pitched into black.

The audience rises to their feet and the cast runs out for curtain calls. We are so close, we sense and share their exhilaration and exhaustion. This play is a Herculean event that leaves nothing, as they say, on the field.

“Othello” runs through January 18, 2017 at the New York Theatre Workshop, 79 E. Fourth St. in New York. For information or tickets, call 212-460-5475 or visit nytw.org

Dear Evan Hansen

THE EDGE Entertainment » Theatre
Dear Evan Hansen
by Wickham Boyle
Contributor
Monday Dec 12, 2016

“Dear Evan Hansen” brings adolescent angst, cheers and tears to Broadway and the brilliant, breakout star carrying these messages is Ben Platt. This is the show I predict will win the TONY for best new musical, and I am near to never drawn to make pronouncements like that. But I can’t help myself.

Evan Hansen is a lonely teen struggling to fit in and find himself in some vibrant way in the terrifying corridors of his high school and his blinkered life. He has no friends; he has tormentors and teasers and a single mom, the brilliant, big-voiced Rachel Bay Jones, loving him but working long hours and then studying to be a paralegal.

Evan is cut off from everyone. He seems to evince some symptoms of being on the autism spectrum: repetitive movements, an inability to engage with others comfortably, certain tics and motions — and Ben Platt has embodied all of this to perfection. When in the opening Evan Hansen and his mother sing “Anybody Have a Map” the shivers and tears begin.

Platt’s voice is enormous and then retreats to a tiny child’s whimper asking for help. How do I find myself, where do I go, is there a map to help me? This is what we have all asked time and time again. The mom, Heidi, also asks for a road map to rearing a very removed teenage son who wants distance and privacy more than anything, and the mom’s wild desire to connect is as painful as Evan’s is to find distance. This is the dance of this show: how to connect, how to protect and the lies and wrong steps we may take as we attempt to do this.

The show steps off when Evan writes an Atta Boy letter to himself, as per his therapist suggestions. You go Evan: You can do it, etc. The note is intercepted by the school bully Connor, who is well played with an unctuous air of threat by Mike Faist. Connor taunts Evan with the note, but in the next scene, we learn that Connor has his own lonely demons as he has committed suicide.

The rest of the play unfurls like a roller coaster ride involving Evan’s lies to Connor’s family, mom Cynthia, a wonderfully sad and silver-voiced Jennifer Laura Thompson and her stern husband Larry, who is brought to life by Michael Park and seems chiseled from a block of wood, until he melts, being the surrogate father to Evan.

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Yes, it’s complicated, and the machinations continue. Evan carries a torch for Connor’s little sister, the very lithe and lovely Laura Murphy. And the fights between the rich Murphys and the aspirational working-class Hansens never seem to muddy the emotional waters that spill over the stage at the Music Box.

Add to these nuclear families two more classmates, the uber-motivated Alana, the girl who joins every club, has Excel spreadsheets for college applications and tries so darn hard and yet is still scared and lonely. Kristolyn Lloyd brings her to life.

The final character in the high school yearbook is the goad and nerd Jared Kleinman whose Cheshire cat grin, and a willingness to falsify emails to create a trail attesting to a firm friendship with Connor and Evan. Jared is played by Will Roland with a fine voice and great acting chops.

The usual landscape of teen anxiety has been ratcheted up to a new high with the advent and ubiquity of social media. Bullying and cyber warfare continue 24/7, and many children succumb to suicide because of it. The producers of the play manage to portray technology as an integral character by the inspired use of screens and scrolls projecting texts and showing how information can go viral and completely transforming what should have been small personal moments into global explosions from which it is impossible to distance oneself. This is achieved with David Korin’s set and Peter Nigrini’s swirling projections.

This work is a musical and the sounds emanating from the small orchestra and the huge voices are haunting, lilting and just glorious. The composers and lyricists work together and Benj Pasek and Justin Paul I hope are basking in their creation. Of course the synthesis for a show like “Dear Evan Hansen” comes from directorial chops and an innate sense of rhythm and cohesiveness brought by a director like Michael Greif.

“Dear Evan Hansen” is a show that makes us ponder and wonder and we may cry or cheer. We can see ourselves and our families on the stage, and certainly I hope that many teens will be in the audience to recognize as the anthem that closes act one says, “You Will Be Found.”

“Dear Evan Hansen” enjoys an extended run at the Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St. in Midtown West. For information or tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit http://dearevanhansen.com/