Evan Hansen is a young man who suffers from severe social anxiety. On the first day of senior year, he writes himself a letter as per his therapist’s recommendation. His mother, Heidi, is a single mom working two jobs. She tries to connect with her son, but they have a hard time reaching one another. Meanwhile, the Murphys (a wealthy family across town) struggle with their own problems: son Connor shows up to the breakfast table high. Cynthia, the matriarch, wonders if she’s doing something wrong (“Anybody Have a Map?”).
At school, Evan has a brief conversation with classmates Alana and Jared. Jared is the closest thing Evan has to an actual friend, but neither of the teens know him very well. Evan manages to catch the attention of Connor, who behaves aggressively. His sister Zoe (Evan’s crush) apologizes to Evan. He looks after her, wondering if he will remain on the outside forever (“Waving Through a Window”).
Evan heads to the computer lab to print his letter. He has another run-in with Connor, who is calmer: he even offers to sign Evan’s cast. Unfortunately, he catches sight of Evan’s letter and realizes it contains details about Zoe--his little sister. After confronting Evan, he furiously stalks out of the computer lab, taking the letter with him.
For the next few days, Connor is absent from school. Evan is left in agony: will he show the letter to Zoe? Eventually, Evan is called to the principal’s office. Connor’s parents are there waiting for him. They tell him that Connor committed suicide a few days previously and died with a letter in his pocket addressed to Evan Hansen. They were confused, since Connor never mentioned having friends before. Evan, uncomfortable and anxious not to hurt the Murphys, panics and says that he and Connor were secretly friends. Cynthia and Larry immediately invite Evan over to their house to talk about Connor. Evan is now trapped; he hesitantly agrees to go.
He confides in Jared, who advises Evan to just go along with it. Once