Dear Evan Hansen, You're Too Old to Still Be in High School

Illustration for article titled Dear Evan Hansen, You're Too Old to Still Be in High School
Screenshot: Universal Pictures

Do you ever feel like casting directors have given up entirely on their jobs? Well, if you’re broken on the ground trying to figure out how Ben Platt is still playing a high school student, then you are certainly not alone. On Tuesday morning, Universal Pictures released the first trailer for Dear Evan Hansen, a film adaptation of the Broadway play which starred Ben Platt in its original run. Platt is reprising his titular role as the depressed, awkward teenager whose lie about his relationship with another teen that died by suicide spirals out of control, spawning two hours of songs and reflections on teenage mental health and social media.

Evan Hansen debuted on Broadway in 2016 with a then-spry young Ben Platt singing his heart out and codifying the sound of the show with his vibrato and riffs that go on “for forever.” It was a magical time that, like all good things, came to an end when Platt left the show and other young men attempted to fill his plaster arm cast.

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But now, the show is getting the film treatment and Platt is back hitting those notes and inexplicably playing a troubled teenager despite being *checks notes* 27 years old. I understand that it is incredibly common for adults to play teenagers, however, those adults can usually pass for teenagers with a little makeup, some dim lighting, and minimal close-ups. Ben Platt is not one of those people.

He is made even less teen-like by the amount of dark shading applied to his face to make him look depressed and anxious nor is he helped by that assortment of dish sponges atop his head which I’m supposed to believe is a wig. Platt’s choice to physically embody Evan’s emotions through a perpetual hunch also feel like the film’s director Stephen Chbosky chose to direct everyone else except Platt, who just repeats everything he did in the stage production.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Chbosky defended this decision to stick with Platt in the lead role, saying, “His understanding of the character is so complete and so profound. I couldn’t imagine anybody else playing it. It’s his part. I felt very strongly about it. And to me it was never even a consideration.” If you can’t imagine someone else playing a role that several men have played then perhaps the problem is your lack of imagination.

Because this is a musical and characters randomly break into song, there is a certain amount of suspension of disbelief built into the viewing audience. But asking anyone to overlook the fact that Ben Platt’s makeup and physicality make him look 40 while he’s trying to play a teenager is simply a tree that one cannot climb. All that being said, as an absolute sucker for musicals I will still be watching this hot mess but I plan to complain about how old Platt looks every time he is on screen

DISCUSSION

babylucy
Lucy2015

Could a 27-yr old female actor play a high schooler? I think some in their twenties have surely done so. Are we talking about a receding hairline here? I am unfamiliar with him, this show and his background but not sure we need to attack him on his age if this is a role that he is basically known for? But also am not invested either way...