Colton Ryan/Olivia Puckett DEH Review
Major Plot Spoilers ahead.
Wow. Honestly, just wow. I’m staring at the screen trying to write this and am still at a complete loss. For what it’s worth, this was my first time seeing the show. I’m seeing it four times while I’m in New York, but this was my first. I’ve been watching the video for as long as I can remember and haven’t gone a day without listening to the soundtrack. I’ve heard Colton’s audio as well as Michael Lee Brown’s and had no idea what to expect going in to this performance. With that being said, nothing could have prepared me for this. I have heard so many reviews regarding the two understudies the past few days and wasn’t sure what to expect out of Colton, but he stole my heart, crushed it to pieces, squeezed it into a mess, only to put it back together again in the finale. This boy is not getting enough credit for his talent. After seeing all of the MLB reviews and Colton reviews, I was left in awe of his performance. This guy deserves all the things, and I wish I could give them to him. He definitely deserves consideration for when November roles around.
When he did Evan’s opening monologue, it was fast. Very fast. Almost faster than Ben’s and to the point where if you weren’t paying attention, you probably missed something. I felt right at home. This of course leads into AHAM and this is the first chance we have at seeing Olivia’s Zoe. (HOLY COW!!!!!) Her portrayal of Zoe was SO different from Laura’s. Mike Faist seemed to have more of a joking tone with her and their opening interaction seemed less hostile and more of a normal sibling dynamic.
This then leads into Evan asking Alana to sign his cast as she tells him about her summer. I thought that Colton looked very anxious and uncomfortable and you could see him fighting with himself as to what the right thing to say to her was. Will of course stole the show immediately when he came on stage and continued to do so throughout. His performance wow’d me and is so much stronger in person than any video could do justice.
Cutting to WTAW - and just wow. I was left speechless. I believe Colton was losing his voice (he seemed hoarse at the beginning of the show but once his vocals warmed up - he nailed it) but this just made the performance even better for me. You could hear the desperation in his voice as he sang and especially when asking “Is anybody waving, back at me?”. His interaction with Olivia was textbook perfect. He was so nervous even I was uncomfortable for him but Olivia was genuinely apologetic that Connor had shoved Evan and seemed upset at the fact Connor was like this. At one point in the song, Colton chased after her waving and she paid him no attention and his face was absolutely heartbroken (I started crying here and never stopped). Heading in to the WTAW reprise in the computer lab, Colton looked devastated when Heidi calls and says she can’t come pick him up and so pained when she asks how his day was. Even he was crying during the reprise and this is something I wasn’t expecting.
Olivia in For Forever showed a side of Zoe I had never seen. She looked so sad as Evan sang and I felt terrible that these happy memories of her brother were ones she didn’t have. (JLT’s performance and breakdown during this song - OMG!) Colton’s chemistry with the Murphy’s seemed natural and only grew as the show went on.
Sincerely, Me is one of my favorite numbers and seeing it in person was AMAZING. Because of Mike and Colton’s off stage friendship, this on stage performance was incredible. Colton mouthed the words he was typing in the emails as he was doing it and this just made the whole thing more realistic to me.
OLIVIA CAN FLAT SING. Requiem is not normally a song to leave me in tears, but the emotion in that song did me in. Zoe was so heartbroken and couldn’t even bring herself to read through all of the emails. I thought at one point she was going to break down trying to sing it but you could see the tears in her eyes. I loved how it seemed more painful and heartfelt.
Colton’s If I Could Tell Her normally gives me goosebumps but with Olivia on stage? I was speechless. They have natural chemistry and it looked so natural every time they were together. When Evan kisses her at the end, she didn’t seem angry, just shocked.
Disappear was wonderful as well and I felt like I got to see so much more of Jared’s character development when he tries to make an input to the Murphy’s and Evan shuts him down. This is something that doesn’t translate in the boot or audio versions for me.
You Will Be Found was where I lost it and didn’t recover. There was something so raw during the speech and watching him crumble on the floor. As Nic mentioned, Colton held on to Connor’s tie for dear life and was audibly crying before he could manage to look out at the crowd again and continue. Hearing Colton cry and look so broken made me want to jump the stage and give him a hug. Michael Park’s breakdown made my dad cry and I had to look away to control my sobs. He fell to his knees and JLT had to come help him up as he pulled her into a hug. When Zoe saw this, you could see her eyes tear up and when she sang and spoke to Evan at the end, she was crying about having her brother back. Once again, Colton and Olivia’s chemistry was off the charts. When they kissed, she wrapped both her arms tight around him and he her and they were both holding on for dear life.
Break in a Glove is a song I find necessary for the show but haven’t died to listen to on repeat. However, the dynamic between Evan and Larry here is SO good. They were both glad to have someone to share this with since they missed out on it when they were younger. Evan looks so hopeful and Larry looks so excited to share this and it was beautiful.
Only us - UGH!!! Olivia nailed this. She was so gentle with him and looked at him so lovingly and Evan looked so enthralled by her. She did indeed kiss him more than one time throughout the song and whenever they were close enough, she was touching him. In the end, Colton pushed her down onto the bed and it looked like the most natural thing in the world.
Good for you was just SO good. Jared’s heartbreak, Alana’s hurt, RBJ WAS CRYING and everyone else was too. Colton looked traumatized that he was going through this and the emotions on his face were painful.
Everyone talks about Colton singing words fail well and they aren’t wrong. This performance left me shaking with sobs and the girl beside me who had no idea about the performance going in, clutching on to my arm and crying. There was so much emotion on the stage at one time I didn’t even know how to handle it. Zoe was crying, Cynthia was sobbing, and Colton was just so so so broken. He kept pulling at his hands and at his chest like he was hurting and he would mouth i’m so sorry in between lines. I made eye contact with him during this song and felt sorry for him because I was sobbing harder than he was.
I didn’t even have time to recover before So Big/ So Small. Rachel Bay Jones was crying so hard and at the end of it, Colton threw himself into her lap and buried his face. He was completely off the couch and into the floor with his arms wrapped so tightly around her I don’t know how she could move. She held him so close and held his face in between her hands. When Evan finally pulls away, he looked like it was the last thing in the world he wanted to be doing.
And of course, I cried through the finale because it was over and it was the most beautiful performance I’ve ever seen.
Overall, I would say, after hearing so much of the OBC and the audios, Olivia blew me away. Completely. She was absolutely incredible and gave me so much more to Zoe that I never knew I needed. Colton stunned me and stole the show. His vocals were wonderful and in the parts where he struggled made it all the more real to me. It was these times where he seemed so desperate and broken the most. Nothing in the world could have prepared me for this and I’m so thankful. If you get the chance to see Olivia, TAKE IT and enjoy every second. If you get the chance to see Colton, please do not sell your tickets because Ben isn’t there. It is still worth it and I didn’t feel like I missed any part of the performance by having Colton. (He’s also beautiful and one of the sweetest people in the whole world. I love him to pieces) ❤️