Tony Award winner Ben Platt sat for a candid Q&A on July 24 at Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum, which was followed by an intimate performance of songs from his “Sing To Me Instead” album, released in March by Atlantic Records.
Speaking to veteran writer David Wild, the Broadway star discussed his showbiz family (his father, Academy Award winner Marc E. Platt, and brother Jonah Platt are no strangers to entertainment), religion and sexuality, the anxieties that come with being a performer, and the influences who pushed him to release his own work.
Empathetic and funny, the “Dear Evan Hansen” star recounted growing up on theater and starting his career at the age of 9 in the 2003 film “The Music Man,” based on the classic stage musical, alongside cast members Kristin Chenoweth, Matthew Broderick and Victor Garber. After his early success, Platt’s ignited love for performing led to other experiences on stage including a quick turn in the play “Caroline, or Change,” an experience he says stuck with him and inspired some of the sound on his latest project.
“I got to watch all of these incredible singers warming up to Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles and exposed myself to that whole world,” said Platt. “A light bulb kind of went off in my mind — that was a sound that feels really honest to me and feels like my fiber. You can hear this mixed pot of the intention that comes from the theater, some of the confessionalism of the James Taylors and Carol Kings, and then a little bit of the blue-eyed soul that hopefully, I’ve stolen from the Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder.”
Musically, Platt delivered with his smooth tenor guiding songs about anxiety and love like “Ease My Mind” and “Bad Habit.” An acoustic performance of “Grow as we go” allowed the audience some insight into the meaning behind his pleading lyrics.
He handled the topic of religion lightly, making jokes about being an openly gay Jewish man. Said Platt: “I definitely take that for granted growing up here in L.A. — a very liberal, progressive place — that representation means so much to some people. Just the right use of a pronoun can just change the whole vernacular. For people to tell me at meet-and-greets that they came out to their parents because of the album, or that they feel more comfortable with themselves or their relationships because of the album, that’s a completely unexpected byproduct that’s really beautiful.”