Meet Ben Platt, Broadway Breakout Star of Dear Evan Hansen

He’s been ready for it almost since the day he was born.

By Adam Green

Most of us struggle for years trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives, but for Ben Platt that was never a question. “From day one,” the baby-faced actor says, “musical theater was my bread and butter.” When he was sixteen, Platt, who had made his stage debut ten years earlier as the Prince in an all-kids Cinderella, auditioned for the director Michael Greif to star in the touring company of the musical Next to Normal but ended up withdrawing to finish high school. A year later, he tried out for the Off-Broadway musical adaptation of Dogfight, for which he was deemed too young—but not before catching the eye of the show’s young songwriters, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Pasek promised that he would be in touch about another project down the line. “I thought, That’s very kind,” says Platt, “but things like that never really come to fruition.”

Except, of course, when they do. Platt is about to open in Pasek and Paul’s terrific, heartfelt musical Dear Evan Hansen (impeccably directed, for good measure, by Greif), which comes to Broadway after a sold-out run last season at Second Stage Theatre. Playing a high school outcast debilitated by self-consciousness and social anxiety who finds himself thrust into sudden popularity and trapped in a lie, Platt gives a star-making performance of almost unbearable precision and transparency. “I think he’s incredibly sensitive and has kind of an artistic soul buried inside him,” Platt says of his character. “But he’s crippled by his inability to let himself be seen in any real way.” Though Platt’s formative years were a far cry from Evan’s (he describes his high school as “almost comically progressive as far as kids who are atypical”), he admits to identifying with his character. “There’s something to be said for any boy growing up among lots of other boys who like to play basketball and football, while all I wanted to do was put on musicals,” he says. “Mentally, I was always in my own world.”

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