As we embark on the new year, we're sharing a series of stories about the artists, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs and more who are poised to do big things in 2017.
Hamilton, the hottest ticket on Broadway right now, is about a founding father offed in a 19th-century duel. But Dear Evan Hansen, the musical most likely to succeed it, is one with decidedly more contemporary complications: it follows a lonely, anxious teenager who finds himself stuck in a web of lies after a classmate commits suicide.
In "Dear Evan Hansen," Ben Platt plays a teen facing a unique set of challenges after the suicide of a classmate.
Playing on the fears of everyone with a Facebook account, social media plays a crucial part in Dear Evan Hansen, as its titular character inadvertently becomes a viral sensation—and not always to positive effect. Audience members can't help but stifle sobs as 23-year-old Ben Platt deftly navigates his way between compassion, desperation, and utter devastation in the starring role.
You may already know him as the lovably geeky Benji from Pitch Perfect, or as Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon. Either way, you'll be seeing a bunch more of him in the future—especially on the night of the Tony Awards, when he'll most likely be holding a trophy.
While this is no doubt a breakthrough performance, Platt is certainly no stranger to theater. His father, Marc, is a lead producer of Wicked (which Platt has seen 27 times!), and Platt has been acting in musicals since the age of six, but Evan Hansen is the first role Platt has originated. It's a doozy, both emotionally and physically. To prepare, he lost 35 pounds; and throughout the play's two-and-a-half hours, he's in almost every scene, singing out his vocal chords for a good deal of it, and fully embodying the character's anxiety with a twitchy physicality.
It's a six-days-a-week gig, with two shows apiece on Saturday and Sunday. We're exhausted just thinking about it. The show has already grossed over $1 million—a milestone in Broadway terms—and attracted its fair share of celebrities, many of whom you can see on Platt's Instagram account (including Emma Stone and Zac Efron). But this is surely just the beginning for Platt, and it'll be fun watching him ride his golden voice to the top.