It wouldn’t be the Tonys without the DRAMA. Ben Platt’s vocal rest for the days leading up to the Tonys almost put his Sunday performance from Dear Evan Hansen in jeopardy, but he pulled it off in the end. Ben would have had the best acceptance speech of the night too, had it not been for Bette Midler.
We first met Ben as the nebbishy Benji in the Pitch Perfect movies, and now he’s gone from the outside looking in to the inside looking out after winning the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. While he was the favourite to win, Ben appeared to be overwhelmed as he accepted his award on-stage. Of course, he talked about how much being a part of the Broadway community has changed his life:
“It’s where I found everything I ever loved and where I belong… And I’ve dreamed every day since of being on this stage and being a part of this community of artists.”
Before adding the quote you’ll probably see on Instagram and Facebook all day long:
“To all young people watching at home, don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody else because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”
Speaking of power – Ben had star power behind him all night. Kevin Spacey kicked off the show with a parody of his “Waving Through a Window” performance and outfit, Anna Kendrick introduced his performance, and “noted Dear Evan Hansen fan” Tina Fey happened to present him with his award. After the show, he was photographed celebrating with Broadway VIPs Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jonathan Groff, Kevin, and dancing with Cynthia Erivo. Oh, and his dad Marc Platt. Just last month, Broadway darling and four-time Tony host Neil Patrick Harris commended him for singing through tears in the New York Times, which is about as big of an endorsement as it gets. This win was a lock.
And if Marc Platt seems familiar to you, it’s because he’s one of the producers of La La Land. He’s quite influential for both movies and the stage, having been one of Wicked’s biggest backers. In fact, when La La Land won at the Globes, somebody in the press room asked Marc if he could help them get tickets to the show, even though he did not produce it. Dear Evan Hansen has had a lot of great buzz in its corner for months, first making the late show rounds in November. The New York Times’ theatre critic Ben Brantley had actually picked Come From Away as the likely winner of Best Musical, but it looks like the Canadian show with no big names could not pick up enough momentum to dethrone Dear Evan Hansen. The latter ended up winning six awards from its nine nominations.
The Globe and Mail’s theatre critic J. Kelly Nestruck told me last month that Dear Evan Hansen was the La La Land of the Tonys, and that Come From Away was the Moonlight. Yet, in spite of backlash towards the show’s creepy main character, it still pulled off the Best Musical win. More on Come From Away soon.