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Dear Evan Hansen is a coming-of-age musical based on the 2015 stage musical by the same name. The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘s Stephen Chbosky directs a screenplay written by Steven Levenson. It tells the story of Ben Platt’s Evan Hansen, who’s a high school senior with Social Anxiety disorder. He finds himself in a web of lies after the suicide of a fellow student. Actor Amandla Stenberg plays classmate Alana Beck, who’s an overachiever with struggles of her own. Stenberg said in a recent interview that she wrote one of the movie’s songs.

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ didn’t use all of the songs from the Broadway musical

Dear Evan Hansen has several differences between the stage musical and the movie. The presence of some characters is minimized but is expanded upon for others. The ending is also different to allow for an extension to Evan’s character arc. These changes were made to accommodate the change in medium.

However, the most notable change is in the music itself. Four songs from the stage musical aren’t in the movie: “Disappear,” “To Break in a Glove,” “Good For You” and “Anybody Have a Map.” The movie also made content additions, including the song “The Anonymous Ones.” This is an emotional track that Alana performs in the movie after Evan says that the two of them have nothing in common.

Actor Amandla Stenberg wrote one of the songs in the movie

Stenberg brings a film background to Dear Evan Hansen. She doesn’t have a background in musical theatre, but she was up for the challenge of bringing an expanded version of Alana to life.

Stenberg appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to discuss Dear Evan Hansen‘s movie musical adaptation. She explained how she was excited to be auditioning for the part but was terrified to sing in front of a large group of people. However, Fallon brought up how Stenberg was more involved in the musical component of the movie than some may have thought.

The actor didn’t only perform the song in Dear Evan Hansen, but she also co-wrote it alongside songwriters of La La Land and The Greatest Showman Benj Passek and Justin Paul. “I co-wrote it with Benj Passek and Justin Paul,” Stenberg said. “The dudes. Those dudes rock…And I got to write with them. We did it mostly over Zoom, which was just kind of deranged, honestly. But, really fun.”

However, Stenberg noted that the process wasn’t exactly easy. They had a funny way of getting through the hard times. She continued: “There were moments where there was a time difference. I was in Copenhagen at the time…So, often our calls would be at like 2 in the morning for me. So, we’d all be like bundled up with our blankets and our tea and just hammering in every single word and line and deciding what we wanted to say. Our coping mechanism became breaking into ‘Kiss From A Rose’ by Seal.”

Critics negatively reviewed ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

'Dear Evan Hansen' actors Ben Platt as Evan Hansen and Amandla Stenberg as Alana Beck sitting at a table with a laptop in front of them
L-R: Ben Platt and Amandla Stenberg | Erika Doss/Universal Pictures

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Movie Soundtrack Features Covers From SZA, Finneas, Carrie Underwood, and Brand New Songs

Dear Evan Hansen had its world premiere at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. The majority of critics took to social media to express their extremely negative reviews. They primarily criticized the movie’s portrayal of depression, anxiety, and suicide. Critics specified their disapproval of Platt’s casting, as he’s a 27-year-old playing a high school senior.

However, critics did praise Kaitlyn Dever’s performance and the musical numbers. Audiences will have the opportunity to chime in on the conversation when Dear Evan Hansen plays in theaters starting Sept. 24.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to speak with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.