At the 2017 Tony Awards, former Pitch Perfect star Ben Platt received accolades for his role as the title character in the musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” After the evening ended, Platt walked away with a coveted Tony Award for his performance. The musical itself earned numerous awards, from Best Original Score to Best Book and Best Orchestrations. The cast album debuted in the top ten on the Billboard chart, which means thousands of earbuds will soon be pulsing with Ben Platt’s rendition of “Waving Through a Window.” He also performed the song at the Tony Awards Ceremony, earning him greater exposure beyond the musical theater community.
The musical is about a teenage boy who suffers from social anxiety and is thrust into the spotlight after a friend succumbs to a tragedy. The plot may seem dark, but the play is connecting with teenagers, in part due to its honesty about mental illness, but also in its way of engaging technology in the traditional theater setting. A live feed of social media posts takes over part of the stage and helps to tell the play’s story. The visual appeal and emotional connection are making the play popular with younger audiences.
While some actors may feel overwhelmed by fans’ stories of personal tragedy or illness, Ben Platt is honored to receive the mail, texts, emails and tweets. He believes in the importance of sharing troubling information and reaching out to people. He told his audience at the awards ceremony that “The things that make you different are the things that make you powerful.”
A young man who sings, dances and is involved in the musical theater community is likely a bit different from most people. For Platt, as well as for the young men he inspires, their differences are their talents and their talents make them powerful. Their differences can also make them famous, and there is hardly an actor who wouldn’t be pleased with that outcome.