“La La Land” didn’t wind up winning Best Picture, but Oscar night was still celebratory for songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Their catchy tune “City of Stars” beat Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s “Moana” for Best Song. Miranda lost his bid to becoming the youngest ever person to EGOT, but Pasek and Paul’s win set them on a trajectory to beat the “Hamilton” composer to the punch.
“La La Land” gave the duo their O, and their new Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen” could very well delivery them a T this June. According to current Gold Derby odds, they are predicted to win the Best Score category. The musical stars “Pitch Perfect’s” Ben Platt and follows a high school student facing anxiety amid the fallout of a classmate’s death. The show has already won a Drama Desk Award for Best Lyrics (unlike the Tonys, that awards body has two separate categories for Music and Lyrics) for its Off-Broadway run at Second Stage.
However, Pasek and Paul will face stiff competition for their Tony. Dave Malloy (“Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”) and Irene Sankoff and David Hein (“Come From Away”) have already won raves for their work. And the spring features an avalanche of new musicals from beloved composers. Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (“Anastasia”), Tim Minchin (“Groundhog Day”), Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”), and Alan Menken and Glenn Slater (“A Bronx Tale”) are just a few of the Tony favorites competing for the prize. But, “Dear Evan Hansen” has emerged as the early favorite for Best Musical according to Gold Derby users. Since that top award often sweeps Best Score along for the ride, Pasek and Paul have a leg up against their veteran competition.
“Dear Evan Hansen” could also help young composers grab a G for their EGOT, but they will have to wait until next February. The cast recording brilliantly recreates the feeling inside the theater. And the pop influenced music makes for an enjoyable listen, even to those who haven’t seen the musical live. It should easily be nominated in the Musical Theater Album category at the next Grammy Awards.
Awards watchers should also look for the duo to nab an Emmy nomination shortly after the Tony Awards. They wrote a song for the recent musical episode of CW’s “The Flash.” In the episode “Duet,” the villainous Music Meister (Darren Criss) transports to a world of song and dance. Pasek and Paul penned the song “Runnin Home to You” for “Flash” star Grant Gustin, to belt out. Musical episodes have a history of performing well in the Original Music and Lyrics category at the Emmys, and an increased profile from “La La Land” and “Dear Evan Hansen” could propel them to a win.
If Pasek and Paul pull off this incredible feat, they will be the youngest people to ever achieve an EGOT. Benj Pasek will technically hold the title of youngest: at age 31 he will just edge out his 32 year old collaborator Justin Paul. But both men are younger than Lin-Manuel Miranda (37), who just needs an Oscar to complete his EGOT, and Robert Lopez (42). Lopez was 39 when he completed his EGOT with an Oscar win for the ear-worm “Let it Go” from “Frozen.”
Be sure to make your Tony Awards predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Broadway insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our Tony odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on May 2. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Tony Awards taking place right now in our theater forums.