Things to Do

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

The play opens on July 10.

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.