Pitch Perfect’s Ben Platt Stars in Dear Evan Hansen at Arena Stage

The play opens on July 10.
<em>Pitch Perfect’s</em> Ben Platt Stars in <em>Dear Evan Hansen</em> at Arena Stage
Ben Platt, who you might know as Benji Applebaum from Pitch Perfect, leads a new musical at Arena Stage. Photo by Lauren Joseph.

Ben Platt isn’t afraid to play the outcast. The 21-year-old actor—best known as magic-trick-obsessed Benji Applebaum in the movie Pitch Perfect and its sequel—stars as the title character in Dear Evan Hansen, a world-premiere musical directed by Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal).

Like Benji Applebaum, Evan Hansen has trouble fitting in. After a private letter goes public, he takes on a fake identity and gets caught in a web of lies. The play tackles deceit, self-discovery, and the drawbacks of social media. “Every thought that you decide to post is just given free rein to be judged,” Platt says. “We’re having to make these decisions daily: ‘Am I okay with this being everyone’s view of who I am?’” It’s a very modern, relatable conflict, which is part of what drew him to the role: “I like to do projects that people can see themselves in.”

Hansen journeys to a greater self-awareness, unlike the one-dimensional yet irresistibly charming Applebaum of Pitch Perfect. The stage role’s physical demands are also greater: Acting and singing in eight shows a week is no easy feat. For Platt, that only makes the reward greater: “I get to give my whole self.”

Until this gig, he had visited Washington only twice—for a wedding and for the obligatory eighth-grade field trip. Platt will be in town for two months this summer, fulfilling one of his longtime ambitions: “My dream ever since I was a kid was to do original, musical theater. It’s quite a big bite to chew, but I’m real­ly excited.”

Dear Evan Hansen runs from July 10 to August 13 at Arena Stage. $40 to $90.

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