Arts & CultureCampus & City

“Dear Evan Hansen” hopes to open up a conversation about mental health

Actress Stephanie LaRochelle, who plays Zoe Murphy, talks about the impact of Dear Evan Hansen on audiences

Broadway Across Canada is bringing Dear Evan Hansen, a deeply beloved, highly acclaimed, and incredibly hopeful story, to life on the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium stage from February 11-16. 

Dear Evan Hansen revolves around a lonely teenager who is encouraged by his therapist to write letters to himself highlighting what will be good about each day. 

“The show is about a boy named Evan Hansen who’s struggling with social anxiety and struggling to connect and fit in,” Stephanie LaRochelle, who plays Evan’s longtime crush, Zoe Murphy, said. “It’s a story about him helping out a grieving family while dealing with a sticky situation after telling a few lies that spiral out of hand.”

Mental health and youth suicide are major themes in Dear Evan Hansen. Throughout its various runs, the show has earned recognition for providing and encouraging dialogues about mental illness, youth suicide, and mental health

“The show is opening up a conversation for mental health,” LaRochelle explained. “It’s special to be a part of something that is empowering people to feel safe to open up and helping to erase the stigma.”

Dear Evan Hansen highlights the need for every human to feel valued, important, and needed. It speaks to the feeling of being left behind, forgotten, or invisible, while also emphasizing that there’s always a light at the end of the dark tunnel. The song from the show, “You Will Be Found,” captures these feelings beautifully. 

“It’s an anthem for people going through whatever sort of struggle they’re facing,” LaRochelle said. “They can just hear that song and feel like they’re not alone and know it’s okay to open up and talk about the things that you’re going through.”

Dear Evan Hansen has touched audiences all across North America throughout its runs already. LaRochelle describes seeing the impact of Dear Evan Hansen’s message and themes first hand during her time on the show.

“It’s really inspiring for me to hear stories from people who have seen the show, whether it be online or at the stage door, people are sharing their stories with us,” she said.

Overall, Dear Evan Hansen promises to be a heartfelt, emotional, and hopeful experience accompanied by an acclaimed story and endearing set of songs. Regardless of where they come from, how old they are, or what they’re struggling with, all audience members will be ‘found’ by the show. 

“It’s very empowering and ends off with a very uplifting message and I think people can walk away feeling hopeful and uplifted,” LaRochelle said.

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