Can the Top Hits of Broadway even be compared?
Lauren Blanks, Entertainment Editor
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the New York streets, with the clamor of voices, honks of cars, and clacking of heels, lies a sanctuary of music in the heart of the city: Broadway. With its worldwide acclaim, Broadway is famous for its many magnificent plays and musicals. Today, there are two musicals that foster more praise and occupy more space in conversations amongst critics and society alike. Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton are the two reigning Best Musical Tony Award winners, along with multiple awards in other respects. After seeing both, I was bombarded with the same question- “Which is better?” Such a simple answer does not procure a simple answer at all, so let’s delve into this question some, shall we?
Dear Evan Hansen, a story about a lonely boy who finds himself in a better life in the aftermath of a lie, tugs at every heartstring available as the audience watches Evan deal with his inner struggles and failure to connect. While it left me completely dehydrated and exhausted emotionally, I absolutely loved it. The power of the performance with the intricate writing and absolutely devastating music is unimaginable, and the company of the show completely takes away the audience’s ability to control their own emotions. The creators take that power away from their fans, allowing hearts to break and mend with the characters. In this way, the audience is left with a transformative and powerful feeling of realizing the power of truth, love, and connecting with those around you. Absolutely stunning.
Conversely, Hamilton is simply a spectacle. While I still left the theater in tears, it is for a completely different reason than the tears struck by Hamilton’s counterpart. From the moment that the first rhymes were uttered by Aaron Burr, Hamilton pins you to your seat. The story of our founding father, Alexander Hamilton, is brought to the stage with such ingenuity and color that I was stunned, glued to my seat realizing that I had never witnessed true genius until I saw this play. Every minute detail had a purpose, a way that it tied into the plot, and as the audience was thrown into Alexander’s success and blunders, happiness and heartbreak, the present world seemed to melt away, transporting us to the time of the scrappy leader. The creator, Lin Manuel Miranda, painted his characters’ lives so that even the villain and menace, Aaron Burr, could pull at our hearts and minds to make us feel and even understand why he ultimately committed his ultimate sin in murdering Alexander (this is history, don’t call spoilers). In this way, my eyes watered as the cast took their bows, as one would when witnessing a miracle of art.
So, there is no real answer to the question. There is no clear winner, for both are magnificent in their own right, and it truly depends on the person viewing them. Like apples and oranges, they are simply of two very different worlds, with very different effects for us to compare them. Go see both, answer the question yourself. It is much harder than it seems.