Dear Evan Hansen and the 27-Year-old High Schooler

The Dear Evan Hansen trailer is here and… it’s definitely a movie that’s coming out later this year. 

In 2016, Dear Evan Hansen opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre and it quickly became a musical theater phenomenon for fans of all ages. It gained critical success for its approach to youth suicide and mental illness. For many, it was a refreshing break from the revivals and classics that dominated the musical theater landscape. 

The following year the musical swept up awards at the Tony Awards — Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Leading Actor, Best Actress in a Featured Role, and Best Orchestration. It dominated the charts when the cast album was released. 

It should come as no surprise that a studio like Universal Pictures was quick to option the film rights. 

Dear Evan Hansen and the 27-Year-Old High Schooler

Dear Evan Hansen
Ben Platt as Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen | Credit: Universal Pictures

The film adaptation has a star-studded cast: Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, and Ben Platt. It seems like the recipe for success, doesn’t it? Right? In a year of musicals like In the Heights and West Side Story, the production quality for Dear Evan Hansen must be off the charts. About that…

At the age of 27, Ben Platt reprises his role as 17-year-old Evan Hansen, a role that he originated in 2014 at the age of 21. As much as I love seeing actors reprise their roles in stage-to-screen adaptations, it is impossible for this movie to convince me that Ben Platt is in high school. 

Platt is no stranger to playing teenagers on screen, he recently appeared in Netflix’s hit Ryan Murphy series The Politician as Payton Hobart. The series pulls off the age discrepancy because of the three-year time jump into the cast’s university life, but Dear Evan Hansen is just irredeemable. 

I have no great love for Dear Evan Hansen, but I do really enjoy Ben Platt’s work. He is incredibly talented, his album is saved on my Spotify, and I binged my way through The Politician embarrassingly fast. This film adaptation has done him dirty. Whatever choices they made in the hair and make-up department were not kind. Someone on Twitter compared his look to Steve Carrell in The 40-Year-Old-Virgin and it can’t be unseen. Ben Platt is six months younger than me and I cannot imagine pulling off a convincing angsty seventeen-year-old. Why didn’t they look for an up-and-coming young actor to take on the role of Evan Hansen? I guess that’s a question left for Platt’s father Marc Platt, one of the producers of Universal Picture’s upcoming film. I know Platt has avoided working with his father in the past, but maybe he should have been a producer for Dear Evan Hansen and allowed a newcomer to take on the role.

Dear Evan Hansen
(L-R) Ben Platt as Evan Hansen and Amandla Stenberg as Alana Beck in Dear Evan Hansen | Credit: Universal Pictures

There’s no doubt that people will enjoy Dear Evan Hansen this September, regardless of the 27-year-old high schooler. The musical and Ben Platt have very loyal fan bases, but the Broadway production was not without criticism. Musical theater fans and critics alike worried that the musical glorified suicide, while others have criticized the way that Evan Hansen is coded as being on the Autism spectrum, but it is never openly addressed. These topics are all likely to be revisited with the film’s release. 

Maybe Dear Evan Hansen will surprise all of us, but the trailer wasn’t that encouraging. 

Universal Picture’s Dear Evan Hansen premieres in theaters on September 24, 2021.

Maggie Lovitt is a writer at Wealth of Geeks where she covers her favorite topics: Star Wars and pop culture nerdery.

In her free time, she is also a novelist, screenwriter, actor, and member of the Screen Actors Guild.