Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

“Dear Evan Hansen” brings mental health awareness to Manoa Valley Theatre

Members of local production of the popular Broadway musical encourage discussion on depression
Kiani Vidaurri
The cast of Manoa Valley Theatre’s “Dear Evan Hansen” performs “Waving Through A Window.”

A critically-acclaimed Broadway musical playing at the Manoa Valley Theatre this month aspires to make people feel less alone in their mental health struggles.

“Dear Evan Hansen” follows a lonely teenage boy with social anxiety who experiences tragedy after his classmate commits suicide.

The musical runs today through April 7. Tickets start at $25.

Manoa Valley Theatre will be the first non-professional production to perform the pre-release of “Dear Evan Hansen.” Former executive director Kip Wilborn secured the rights with Music Theatre International in New York over a year ago.

“It’s been on Broadway, it’s been on national tour, and now it’s us,” said director Rob Duval.

While there is a lot of excitement to put on the musical, the cast and crew must keep the show’s heavy themes, such as suicide and depression, in mind.

Suicide is a second leading cause of death among young people in Hawaii. There were 12.9 suicide deaths per 100,000 people in 2020, according to CAMS-care CDC 2020 statistics.

“Suicide is on the rise because of untreated mental health conditions, people feeling a lack of support or no one to turn to,” said Kumi Macdonald, executive director of non-profit National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Hawaii.

Many young people face mental health issues, like depression, due to bullying, social media and loneliness.

“Theater is a way of saying the things that are difficult to say,” said actor Presley Wheeler, who plays Connor Murphy.

The cast and crew are working with mental health professionals to understand these issues more. They hope that the show will encourage audience members who are struggling to reach out to those who can help.

“You will be found and no one is alone,” said Duval.

For tickets, click here.

Kiani Vidaurri is a sophomore journalism major at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. She is interested in investigative, entertainment, and lifestyle reporting. She hopes that she can develop her skills as a storyteller through journalism.

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