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Ben Platt is Broadway's new gay romantic

Ben Platt is Broadway's new gay romantic

Ben Platt
Vince Aung

Ben Platt talks to Out about his residency at Broadway's Palace Theatre, his new album Honeymind, and the creative partnership with his fiancé Noah Galvin.

A moment of pure revelry in the video for Ben Platt’s “Cherry on Top” features the Tony winner and his fiancé, Noah Galvin, playfully dancing at a scenic overlook on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles.

In the gauzy video shot on Super 8 millimeter film, they nuzzle against a vintage baby-blue convertible Mustang. The downtown L.A. skyline frames them on one side and the Hollywood Bowl, where Platt performed in support of his 2021 album, Reverie, is behind them. “Cherry on Top,” from Platt’s latest album, is a love letter to Galvin. It’s the stuff of poets to their muses. “The way that you free me / And the way that you see me / You’re my sundae feeling / It's a sweet life, even when it’s not / ’Cause your love is the cherry on top,” Platt sings.

The video for the bop, which follows the lovebirds from the Hollywood Hills to the Santa Monica Pier, is also an homage to Los Angeles, where Platt grew up and now shares a home with Galvin. L.A. hosts another storied venue where Platt is set to play this July — the Greek Theatre, which is nestled against a hillside in Griffith Park.

On a breezy and bright April day, Platt and his team survey the vacant Greek Theatre ahead of his gig there to highlight his third album, Honeymind, a sensual dreamscape influenced by ’60s and ’70s folk and Americana music. Several of the album’s songs teem with queer desire, pining, and romance. Songs like “Cherry on Top” and “Andrew,” about a young man’s unrequited crush on a straight boy, are primed to become part of a soundtrack for queer first love and heartache. When Platt serenades his paramour with the lyrics, “I loved you long before I knew you” on “Before I Knew You,” it’s clear he’s as much a troubadour singing about courtly love as he is a Broadway darling.

“Something that I still sometimes want as a consumer — or as someone who is queer wanting to find music that reflects me — is music that’s expressly queer, that is introspective and romantic and soft a little bit and a little bit earnest,” Platt says.

“I think a lot of queerness in music is expressed with a lot of pride and aggression and is sexually forward. I think that’s fantastic, and it makes me excited and happy to hear it, but I think isn’t necessarily my identity or what I feel is most organic to me,” he adds. “I was excited about the idea of something that lived in a bit of a softer, sweeter place but was still as forthright with its queerness as possible.”

It’s a pivotal year for Platt. He’s got a national tour teed up for Honeymind with one of 2023’s Out100 honorees, Brandy Clark, who duets with him on the heartrending “Treehouse.” A Nashville-based singer-songwriter, Clark crossed genres when she wrote the music and lyrics for the country musical Shucked on Broadway. Platt says her work is “very much in the vein of what I’ve been trying to do with [Honeymind]. Just her existing in this very traditional sort of country Americana space and yet being so easygoing and open with her queerness. I just couldn’t admire that more.”

Ben Platt Vince Aung

The Honeymind tour follows Platt’s coveted three-week residency at the newly restored Palace Theatre in New York City, where Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, and Diana Ross have famously performed. He refers to the history of greats who’ve played the Palace as “anxiety-provoking” but combats that by focusing on “making it feel as authentic to me as possible,” he says.

“It feels like a huge privilege,” he says of the chance to meld his love of Broadway with his inner bard.

“The opportunity to play a character and be in a musical is already something that is very rare and hard to find. And then I think it gets even more unbelievably rare to get to occupy one of those Broadway spaces purely as yourself,” Platt says.

Though he’d already appeared in esteemed productions of The Music Man and The Book of Mormon and films like Pitch Perfect as a young actor, Platt rose to Broadway superstardom originating the titular part in Dear Evan Hansen. He won the Tony for the role in 2017 and met Galvin (The Real O’Neals) that year while passing the torch of the lead role to his future fiancé. They remained friends for several years before confirming their relationship in 2020 and becoming engaged in 2022.

Last year, Platt earned another Tony nomination for his lead role in Parade, where he portrayed an imprisoned Jewish factory owner circa 1913. Given his ties to Broadway, it’s easy to forget that he hails from sun-soaked Los Angeles. But on that April day at the Greek, he volubly navigates the conversation between New York and Los Angeles, the Palace and the Greek, show tunes and Americana. He shares that he and Galvin have a place on the east side of Los Angeles and that they’re also setting down roots in Brooklyn. He adds that his residency setlist will include odes to Liza and Judy as well as to Laurel Canyon’s own Joni Mitchell (he put his stamp on her classic “River” in his Netflix series The Politician). Still, there’s no sense of bifurcation in his work or life. There’s more of a melding of his multiple facets.

Earlier this year, Platt and Galvin presented together at the Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica. Galvin was nominated for Supporting Performance in the hilarious, heartfelt mockumentary Theater Camp, which they starred in and cowrote with Molly Gordon (Booksmart, Shiva Baby) and Nick Leiberman. While Platt has become a fixture at the Tony Awards throughout the years, the Indie Spirits had a new vibe for him.

“I’m pretty earnest. I don’t associate the words cool or laid-back or edgy with myself very much. And I very much see the indie film art world as that,” Platt says. “In line with some of the realizations we’ve been talking about — leaning into what’s actually authentic and exciting and happy-making to me, and making something with my partner and my friends and about a world we love and are passionate about and regardless of the sort of cool factor of it — I think is what got us a movie that felt really real and joyful and that we feel proud of.”

Ben Platt Vince Aung

Platt’s dance card is full for the foreseeable future between his residency and the Honeymind tour, but he’s hopeful that he and Galvin will continue to create together.

“To do something with Noah for the first time as proper collaborators was really exciting,” he adds about Theater Camp. “Going into the process, we were definitely nervous about bringing that element into our relationship. We obviously consider it to be very sacred, and we don't want to sacrifice any of our emotional health for working creatively as artists together. It was definitely a first trial of that, but it was such a symbiotic and fruitful and just fulfilling experience to work together.”

Regarding that “Cherry on Top” video: An option Platt considered was a Fleetwood Mac-inspired narrative about two girls in a band who fall in love. (He promises he’s bookmarked that idea for another day.) Since the song is for Galvin, Platt landed on asking his fiancé to spend a day out and about in L.A. in a vintage car dancing and kissing. That they happen to model possibility for young queer couples is serendipity.

“I take seriously not wanting to exploit or overutilize our relationship and to save some of it for us…but we both feel really proud and happy that our relationship gets to be some sort of representation and an example — that we can be just joyful and complex and romantic and have that be something that is meaningful to young people,” he says.

This article is part of Out's July/August issue, which hits newsstands on July 2. Support queer media and subscribe— or download the issue through Apple News, Zinio, Nook, or PressReader starting June 18.

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Tracy E. Gilchrist

Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.

Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.