Metro Weekly

Cover Story: Ben Platt Redefines His Musical Journey

Ben Platt on his new record "Honeymind," what "Evan Hansen" gave him, and his charming husband-to-be, Noah Galvin.

Ben Platt - Photo: Vince Aung
Ben Platt – Photo: Vince Aung

Ben Platt has been openly gay since at least the launch of his recording career five years ago. He’s also essentially been out now for more than half of his life. Yet the 30-year-old artist and actor — known for his work in Dear Evan Hansen, Pitch Perfect, and The Politician, to name only three prominent titles — has never been quite as out and proud, nor as self-assured in his queer identity and sense of purpose, as he is now. It’s what makes his newly released third album, Honeymind, so captivating and compelling.

Only two songs in, Platt offers an ode to a certain American archetype that could become a new Queer National Anthem. “Just a homegrown cowboy-kissing valentine, sweet as apple pie,” Platt sings about “a red-blooded All-American Queen…dancing the American dream.”

It’s followed by the sweetest sad song examining the particular, all-too-familiar turmoil of unrequited love over childhood crushes that budding gays face — something Platt characterizes as “a hard rite of passage for soft-hearted boys.”

“It’s just a cruel joke that chemicals play,” Platt sings on first single “Andrew.” “You don’t wanna kiss me cause I’m not at all like the girls in the posters that hang on your wall.”

Later this year, the 30-year-old Emmy-, Grammy-, and Tony-winner plans to marry fellow actor Noah Galvin after several years of romantic bliss. The couple’s love is the “Cherry On Top” of Platt’s “sweet life,” as he puts it in on another Honeymind track.

One song later, he even manages to top that, reaching greater heights with “Treehouse,” a duet featuring Grammy-winning lesbian country artist Brandy Clark. On the tender, metaphorical love ballad, Clark and Platt sing in unison that “the roots may be strong, and the branches are sturdy/it don’t make a difference, you’re still at the mercy of” — forces beyond one’s control, whether a treetop retreat or a two-hearted union. “I’d rather take the chance of crashing than be standing safe on the ground…wishing I was feeling, all I’m feeling right now,” he sings.

Clark serves as the opening act and duet partner for Platt on his current summer tour to promote Honeymind. In addition to exploring boldly queer lyrical themes, the album also charts a new musical course for Platt, one sturdily rooted in folk and Americana and less showily emotive and embellished than his first two albums, 2019’s Sing to Me Instead and 2021’s Reverie.

Tapping Clark for tour support was an inspired move on Platt’s part, and not merely because of her Americana bona fides. There is also her experience on Broadway, specifically her Tony-nominated work in helping to write and develop last year’s hit musical Shucked. That experience was altogether so rewarding, Clark is eager to do it all again with another show, once again created in tandem with co-writers Shane McAnally and Robert Horn. “I’m not currently working on [a new musical], but I’m looking for one….something that we can all dive into,” Clark shared with Metro Weekly earlier this spring.

She shared even more details about her thinking in a Variety profile from earlier this month. “When this whole thing came up of…doing this tour, I didn’t tell anybody until it was announced, [but] we’re trying to find a new idea to work on…. And I said: ‘Maybe this is a sign. Maybe we’re supposed to develop something for Ben.’ And so, you know, you just never know. But I have definitely had that thought.”

For his part, Platt is intrigued by the idea of helping to create and develop a Broadway musical.

“Absolutely, 100 percent, it’s on my bucket list,” he says. “Trying to be patient in terms of the right idea coming for an original musical, but…before I shuffle off the mortal coil, I would love to write a musical.”

After Clark divulged her ulterior motive, Platt gave his consent in the same Variety piece.

“I’m game, I’m signing on,” he was reported as saying. “My only ulterior motive basically in going on the tour is to force Brandy to hang out with me all over the country. So I definitely plan to spend some time [talking ideas]. It sounds good to me.”

Ben Platt - Photo: Vince Aung
Ben Platt – Photo: Vince Aung

METRO WEEKLY: You just launched your tour and are preparing to make your debut at Wolf Trap this Sunday, June 23. How similar is the show to your recent series of concerts on Broadway? Will you bring out one-night-only special guests as you did in New York?

BEN PLATT: Probably not. I’m obviously always open, if somebody happens to be in town or if someone’s local, to having somebody pop up with me, but the focus will be more on my own music. But in terms of the setlist of covers and my own music, it will be very, very much the same.

MW: Do you perform a lot of covers?

PLATT: Just two. I do a Joni Mitchell song and a James Taylor song. Both of them exist very much in the space of this record. And then I’ll have one musical theater moment as well.

MW: Of course on tour you’ll be joined every night by the fabulous Brandy Clark.

PLATT: Of course, yes. That’s the best part. We’ll be singing our duet together.

MW: As a longtime fan of Clark’s, I was thrilled to see you enlist her for your new album, specifically with the duet “Treehouse.” How did that come about?

PLATT: I’ve been an admirer of her work for a long time, particularly her songwriting. And when I went to Nashville to work on this album, one of the many people on the list that I was looking to work with was her, and she agreed. She, I, and Jimmy Robbins had a great session together and I brought in this Treehouse concept that I’ve been wanting to write. And she really responded to it, and we wrote it that day and had a wonderful experience. And then I sort of left it for a long time, as you do [when] you’re in the process of just writing as quickly as you can.

And then when it came time to sort of shake down the album, “Treehouse” just kept staying at the top of the list. But it just felt that something was missing. And it dawned on me that it really feels like a two-perspective kind of song. I thought, “I wonder if there’s any world in which Brandy would agree to throw her voice on here too, in addition to her songwriting?” So I reached out and asked, and she was generous and open and thrilled to do it, and really brought the song to life.

MW: So it started as just working with her as a contributing songwriter, not thinking she might also contribute as a featured singer and duet partner?

PLATT: That’s right, yeah. We didn’t necessarily write it, quote unquote, as a purposefully duet song. Just, as we spent more time with it, it became clear that the thing that was really missing was kind of us intertwining on it.

MW: It’s so tender and vulnerable and affecting. Let’s talk more about the album. When did you get the idea to switch things up and go in a folk/Americana direction?

PLATT: As I started writing for this cycle, I always try to begin without any kind of stylistic idea in mind or goal, and just see what organically is coming out. And because I was writing from a bit more of a settled and comfortable place, having turned 30 and being engaged and moving into a more long-term home, the kind of sound that I was responding to the most was something unadorned and plaintive, and that allowed the kind of narrative and storytelling to be the star.

So I was just really loving that style, and that seemed to be a nice match for the sort of things I was writing about emotionally. And then on top of that, I got kind of doubly inspired by the crossroads of imagery and sound that are in that space, and also [adding] an expressly queer perspective and queer imagery and queer experiences. The combination of those two worlds really excited me and some of the queer co-writers I was working with.

MW: Lyrically, the songs show a progression from your earlier catalog, those from your first two albums. Yet all along you’ve been weighing in on some pretty deep and complicated, even heavy, issues and topics pertaining to love and romance.

PLATT: Well, yeah, I think I’ve been, like anybody, just trying to figure out what exactly love is and how it affects me. And now having found it to its fullest extent, I think that has echoed into the way that I write about it, for sure.

MW: Obviously even before this album and your relationship with Noah, you already had a notably rich arsenal of “wedding songs.” Speaking of, are wedding bells still in the offing for you?

PLATT: We’re getting married in the fall, at long last.

MW: Congratulations. Are you going to have a big wedding?

PLATT: Yeah. I have a lot of Jewish cousins, so it will be quite large.

MW: Do you have a honeymoon planned?

PLATT: Yes. At an undisclosed location where no one will bother us.

MW: I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask whether you’ll be singing any of your songs in the ceremony?

PLATT: Decidedly no. Almost every wedding I go to, I end up working in some way, in the sense that — and of course, I love to do it — I’m often asked to be the “first dance” singer or to sing in some regard, or “down the aisle” singer. So at my own wedding, I would love to be purely the passenger and allow others to do the hard work.

MW: I don’t know that much about how you guys met. I know you were both Evan Hansen on stage — he was your original replacement for the show, right?

PLATT: Yeah. So we met several years before that. We met when we were 19, 20 years old doing this comedy web series with the same collaborators that we made Theater Camp with, who are friends of mine from growing up. It was a web series that never saw the light of day, but it did allow us to meet. And we immediately were infatuated with each other. We dated on and off in the beginning and then settled into being friends for quite some time. And then about four and a half years ago, we had an epiphany that we weren’t just each other’s favorite people, we were each other’s actual people. So it’s been a decade, but four and a half years of proper togetherness.

MW: The odds of two Evan Hansens getting together as a couple seem low. That’s sort of fascinating in a way.

PLATT: We lived sort of parallel lives as kids. He was a child actor in musical theater as well. He played Gavroche [in Les Miz] and did lots of musicals here in New York as a kid, and I was doing sort of the same thing on the West Coast. So it’s just emblematic of the fact that we have a lot of the same values and a lot of the same experiences and a lot of shared bliss, that it was only a matter of time before we played the same part.

MW: On that topic, next year will mark a decade since you debuted the role in the world premiere, pre-Broadway production at Washington’s Arena Stage. At the time, you weren’t exactly, explicitly gay. When did you come out, and was it a struggle?

PLATT: No, I am very privileged in the sense that I came out when I was 12, 13 years old to my parents and friends, just by virtue of having a lot of reference points for queerness. I grew up, as I said, in the theater and my dad’s in the business and has a lot of queer colleagues and I had a lot of available examples that I know a lot of young people don’t have. So I knew quite quickly. And everyone who has known me, even remotely, personally since I was 12 or 13, or worked with me or whatever it may be, was, of course, fully aware that I’m queer.

I think professionally, I wasn’t necessarily making a conscious choice to keep it hidden. It was more just that it hadn’t applied to any of the roles or the art that I was doing and didn’t seem like it was intrinsic to any of the work. For example, Evan is not a queer character. But when I put out my own music and my first album, naturally my perspective was going to have a lot to do with that. And so it seemed like a good time to just include it [in the spring of 2019]. I didn’t even really see it as necessarily coming out. It was sort of received that way publicly, but I just never really had the occasion in a professional sphere or felt the need to include it. And now I’m just grateful that it’s such a beautiful part of what I do in terms of my own artist project.

MW: It should be noted that Evan Hansen is quite a tower of a role to sing.

PLATT: Yes, sir.

MW: It truly requires you to perform vocal gymnastics. And in a way, your early catalog — many of the songs from your first two albums — also contain a lot of vocal feats to accomplish. Do you ever think of yourself as a musical athlete?

PLATT: Very much so. I definitely treat the times where I’m performing, like right now and on tour, like moments of preparation. I guess that it would be like an athlete in the sense that I have a very particular diet and sleep schedule and supplement regime. And I do a lot of stretching and physical therapy, and I work with my voice teacher on my instrument every day and take it very seriously because as you said, it is a muscle. So it’s certainly an athletic pursuit, especially to think at the volume, in terms of 18 songs a night. It just has to be done in a sustainable way so that I don’t have to be canceling.

MW: Canceling or worse, doing serious harm or permanent damage to your instrument without proper care and maintenance.

PLATT: Yes. I’ve worked with [vocal coach] Liz Caplan since The Book of Mormon [in 2012], so over ten years. And I work with her every single day before I go on and she’s a real savior in regards to sustainability and keeping the status quo in terms of my body and instrument.

Ben Platt - Photo: Vince Aung
Ben Platt – Photo: Vince Aung

MW: One last question about Evan Hansen: Given that you were so immersed in portraying that character for the better part of a full decade, I wondered if you missed it?

PLATT: Not really. I spent so much time in that headspace. We did several readings, several workshops, the D.C. production, the off-Broadway production, the Broadway production, the film. So I’ve sung those songs and lived in that mind space in a quite literal way for thousands of hours. And I don’t love to return to it, but I am obviously indebted to that project for opening up so many doors.

Ben Platt - Honeymind
Ben Platt – Honeymind

MW: On the topic of Broadway and the theater, do you plan to do more? I know you just did Parade and snagged a second Tony nomination as a result.

PLATT: Yes, of course. I mean, I try to be as judicious as possible when it comes to doing something on Broadway because it’s such an undertaking. Usually, the decision to do any kind of real piece of theater is at least six months, if not a year or two years of life. So I try to be very judicious about what opportunities I seek out. But for the rest of my life, yes, I hope to always return to Broadway. It’s really my favorite medium, and I have a list of roles that I’d love to play. And also, I’m always on the lookout for original material first and foremost.

MW: Your big foray into network television came just before the pandemic with Netflix’s The Politician, the comedy-drama series developed by Ryan Murphy. Do you know if a third season is still in the works?

PLATT: Not that I know of. Ryan’s a very busy man and he juggles a billion things. So never say never, but nothing that I’m aware of.

MW: As far as your songwriting career goes, do you see yourself continuing in the Americana direction in the future?

PLATT: Yeah, I try to approach each album as just a new moment in my life and see what feels the most organic to what’s happening. But I do feel, in terms of the records I’ve made so far, this one feels the most like a kind of arrival in a space that just fits my voice and my point of view really nicely and comfortably. And so I would love to stay very much in this world moving forward, but of course open to whatever inspiration strikes in terms of variation.

MW: Tell me about how Theater Camp, your charming comedy mockumentary from last year, came to be.

PLATT: The four of us — me and Noah, and Nick Lieberman and Molly Gordon — made a short in the fall of 2017, right when Noah and I were changing guards as the Evan Hansens. We had grown up doing comedy and theater together and were looking for an opportunity to make something together. And so we just did a day and a half shoot for zero dollars with some kids that agreed to do it for free from Noah’s former middle school. And tried out this documentary form and just loved the experience. We loved the sketch that we got.

We spent three or four years after that developing it into a feature. And finally got it made with people who were crazy enough to let us do a semi-improvised film with music and lots of children at a former camp. And we got to write original music for it. It was incredibly difficult, but in the most joyful and elbow grease kind of way.

MW: It really is an amusing, lovely tale. Any chance there might be a sequel, or perhaps a musical adaptation, in the works?

PLATT: No, I don’t think so. I think we love what it became, and we loved the form, and certainly there will be mutations of that same collaboration to come. But in terms of that particular story, I think we’d love to leave it where we left it. But if anyone wants to make it into a stage musical, we have the rights, so come find me.

MW: Well, do you think you’ll work with Noah again along similar lines, or would you like to?

PLATT: Definitely. We loved the experience. We were very careful about waiting till the right moment to do something properly together that really was [where] we had shared ownership. And I think we remain vigilant about making sure we each have things of our own that we can invest in and keep ourselves whole as artists, but definitely as the right things arise, we would love to keep collaborating and writing together.

MW: Do you think you’ll have kids?

PLATT: We go back and forth. I think TBD. We have a lot of nephews and a niece, and they keep coming. Noah has two siblings and I have four. So we love, love, love, love children, love being around them. So my lie detector test answer is, “I’m sure we’ll end up doing it, but I think we’ll just give ourselves a few years to enjoy each other” — we’ll be married and then go from there. But certainly, it’s in our mind.

MW: Do you live together now?

PLATT: Yes, we do.

MW: Do you have a dog or any kind of pet?

PLATT: We have a dog, a Labradoodle named George. He’s named for Georges Seurat. He had little dots on his nose when he was a puppy. Little pointillist dots, and we were like, “Well, that’s George then.”

MW: You’re both Jewish, right?

PLATT: Yes, indeed.

MW: Are you religious?

PLATT: Not in terms of observance and theology, I would say. I much more identify culturally with Judaism, in terms of the curiosity and the sort of family connectedness, and open line of communication, neuroses and anxiety, and cooking — all of the things that are more about daily living. But my version of Judaism suits me. And Noah lives in a very similar space.

MW: That worked out well.

PLATT: Yes. Yes, very much. My parents were just thrilled that he’s Jewish at all, so I’ll take it.

MW: I know you’ve collaborated in song with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Sara Bareilles as well as Clark. Do you have any collaborations in the works or do you hope to do more in that realm?

PLATT: Nothing in particular at the moment, but I always prefer working with a person I admire than working alone. I’m not a big fan of the solitary experience and would love to collaborate with either of them again or anyone else in this sphere. Always open to that. I find that’s the most joyful stuff, basically in teaming up.

MW: If you do stick with Americana, a future collaboration would just have to be with the other lesbian musical powerhouse brand — Brandi Carlile.

PLATT: I would love to. She’s another queer icon in this space and a brilliant songwriter, and I hope we’ll get our chance to sing together someday. I’m confident we will — big fan.

MW: It was only in preparing for this interview that I learned of the Tiësto remix of your original song “Imagine.” And then I guess there were also dance remixes of Dear Evan Hansen‘s “Waving Through a Window.” Do you like to dance? How did you feel about that? That’s not really your genre.

PLATT: Noah and I both love to dance. I’ve always loved dancing. Our biggest priority at our wedding is to make sure that the dancing is as lively and well-curated as possible. The “Waving Through a Window” dance mixes were against my will. They just sort of got made. And I’ve only ever heard them in gay clubs, but thrilled to pop up there now and then. And the Tiësto remix was just a fun thing we did when we released the single to kind of keep it going and give a different audience a new version. And it’s a fun one. My brother-in-law, Avery, really loves that one.

MW: Have you been approached to do other dance tracks, as a featured artist or the like?

PLATT: No, but I’m wide open. I love a gay dance anthem, so happy to do another one.

MW: Have you encountered any hostile or anti-gay people or reactions on tour or anything, similar to the kind of rising tension or increasing threats that drag queens have confronted?

PLATT: No, I’m sure it’s somewhere, but I do my best not to seek that out. But no, my shows tend to be very safe, open, happy, queer spaces. I think my only response to [counteract] that is, just further openness, further compassion, gayer songs, gayer clothes.

Ben Platt performs with very special guest Brandy Clark on Sunday, June 23, at 8 p.m. in Wolf Trap’s Filene Center, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, Va. Remaining tickets are $59 to $99. Call 703-255-1800 or visit

Additional dates on The Honeymind Tour, with stops at 21 venues across the U.S. and Canada, include the Academy of Music in Philadelphia (6/21), Massey Hall in Toronto (6/25 and 6/26), Ravinia in Highland Park outside Chicago (6/28), Mershon Auditorium in Columbus (7/2); Ryman Auditorium in Nashville (7/6 and 7/7), the Fox Theatre in Atlanta (7/9), the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles (7/20) and Benaroya Hall in Seattle (7/27).

For the full schedule and ticket information, as well as more information visit

Honeymind is available wherever you purchase or stream music.

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