The Broadway opening of buzzy new musical “Dear Evan Hansen” had Hollywood connections all over the place.
First, of course, were the movie ties to songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, theater-world favorites who are having something of a Tinseltown moment. For one thing, they were the lyricists on “La La Land,” Damian Chazelle’s awards contender with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.
“We’re sort of blown away that there’s such an openness for a musical that’s heartfelt to be part of the conversation right now,” said Paul (pictured, left) at the “Dear Evan Hansen” opening night party at the Pierre.
“It’s really extraordinary to us that people really embraced something that’s not ironic, that’s not cynical, that’s not poking fun at the form,” added Pasek (pictured, far right, alongside the show’s book writer, Steven Levenson).
On top of “La La Land,” they’ve written the songs for “”The Greatest Showman,” the Hugh Jackman movie musical about P.T. Barnum. That one’s in its second week of filming in New York City, and the morning after the Dec. 4 opening night party they had a 6:30 am call to get in a car and head out to the set.
“Dear Evan Hansen,” meanwhile, is already picking up awards-season chatter — and high on the list of trophy contenders is star Ben Platt. He’s got his own Hollywood ties: Moviegoers will recognize him from the “Pitch Perfect” films, and Platt’s dad is “La La Land” producer Marc Platt (“Wicked,” “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” “The Girl on the Train”).
The younger Platt draws on a lot of raw emotion at each performance of “Evan Hansen.” Audiences leave thinking it must demolish him every night.
It does, he admits. “I sleep as much as possible,” he said. “I have a fun, special, annoying diet that’s high protein, no gluten, no dairy. And after the show I need to watch things like ‘Parks and Recreation.’ Something that’s very easy and funny and light.”