NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Broadway’s Tony Award nominations will be announced Tuesday.
All season there has been a lot of buzz about the musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” and the actor who navigates through a conflicted teenager’s life.
As CBS2’s Dana Tyler reports, Ben Platt knows the character Evan Hansen as if he’d grown up with him. Three and a half years ago, as the play’s creators first put the words and music to paper, 19-year-old Platt was asked to help bring Evan to life.
“To get to create a character from scratch with the writers in a very sort of collaborative experience is just the greatest gift. As an actor, that’s all you dream of,” he told Tyler.
Evan, the son of a single mother, is an insecure high school senior bouncing off the barrage of social media, unsure if it could boost his confidence or isolate him even more.
“I wanted to do my best to make Evan, as specific as a human being as he is, to make him as universal as he could possibly be,” Platt said.
Evan is fidgety, avoids eye contact and is open to living a lie.
“To sort of get on his side and understand why he’s doing these things that are maybe morally ambigious, you have to really feel like you understand his intentions and you feel you know him, or are him in some way,” Platt said.
Unlike the character, Platt enjoyed a full and busy childhood.
“But certainly growing up and not wanting to play soccer or basketball, but rather wanting to put on Peter Pan in my backyard by myself with my boom box. I can relate to sort of being in your own world and wanting a different path for yourself, of course,” he said.
Platt’s break-out movie role was his first as an overeager teen in the “Pitch Perfect” films. He said he’ll always be grateful for “Pitch Perfect,” but hopes fans who see him as Evan Hansen better understand the impact of living on a touchscreen.
“The great things social media can provide, and trying to use it for the right reasons and glean the positives from it. But never to seek validation from it or rely too deeply on it to sort of prove my worth or anyone else’s worth,” he said.
Sharing this on Broadway has been cathartic.
“I love this piece so much, and I feel so comfortable in it,” Platt said. “It’s a fire under my butt to continue to give the same amount of intensity, and realism, and emotional specificity and just making sure that it’s staying at the same quality. Because I want everyone to have the same experience.”
It’s a role, but Platt views it as a responsibility as well. He’s so proud of what the show says and what it inspires, like generational conversations that could be life changing.