Revisiting my New York Dear Evan Hansen review, I suggested it would be best not to transfer it to London.  Am now wondering  – after a massive marketing campaign delivered an enormous advance, even before casting was announced – if I was right.

Hailed as a ‘great musical’ with six Tony Awards on Broadway in 2016, one of the most remarkable things about Dear Evan Hansen is the storyline written by Steven Levenson is intriguing enough that it could survive as a straight play.

We’ve all done it, told a ‘little white lie’ that spirals out of proportion till you have to go along with it, or watch the world collapse around you.

For Evan Hansen, 15 year old high school bookworm – think of a not-so-Young-Sheldon twitching with anxiety disorder – it’s even tougher: the school bully Connor Murphy snatches a note he’d written to himself, commits suicide and his grieving family believe Evan was his ‘best friend’ almost adopting him as a surrogate son, and each using him as a scratching post to deflect from their own fractured relationships.

Oh, and ‘The Connor Project’, an online memorial webpage captures the attention of isolated teens across America, goes viral and Evan becomes an internet icon. 

It’s clearly destined to be performed in every high school in America, and with 37,000 of them that’s a lot of royalties lined up for creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who are the composers behind The Greatest Showman movie.

They’re masters at the popular anthem – in the same way that ‘This Is Me’ sung by Keala Settle transcended the movie to become a touchstone for trans and marginalized people, the warmly reassuring ‘You Will Be Found’ from Dear Evan Hansen is the new go-to song (and #youwillbefound hashtag) for troubled teens.

The staging is a carbon copy of the Broadway production with scrolling screens showing the Facebook and instagram posts of the background characters – it’s less clever than the projection of Christopher’s thoughts in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and less a colourful ensemble piece than Everybody’s Talking About Jamie but if you liked either, there’s something for you in Evan Hansen.

As Evan, and in a strong West End debut Sam Tutty is wholly absorbed in the role, sings extraordinarily well and is touchingly convincing as a boy whose speaking voice is breaking while his singing voice can incorporate a haunting falsetto.  He’s also more obsessively jerking than the American version, perhaps because the show is now being sold as ‘about mental illness’ as the promoters capitalise on a popular trend.

The show is carefully directed and designed not to have expensive ‘stars’ – it’s a rollout franchise of the American original – so however good Tutty is, it won’t matter if you see someone else.

I also liked Jack Loxton as Jared, Evan’s computer geek sidekick, mainly because he gets the rare comedy lines in the script: without him, it could all be a bit too earnest.

It’s solid, beautifully designed and lit, and the songs and the visuals will stay with you.  But the story is still about dishonesty being rewarded – Evan tells a mounting series of lies and even after he confesses, gets away with it. 

Maybe that passes for OK in Trumpian America, but for now it also seems to have blinded British musical theatre audiences, who normally prefer simplistic pantomime endings where the good are rewarded and the bad punished.

Booking to May 2