Pasek and Paul

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Pasek and Paul
Pasek and Paul - Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.JPG
Benj Pasek (left) and Justin Paul
Background information
Genres Musical Theatre
Members Benj Pasek
Justin Paul
Benj Pasek
Born (1985-06-09) June 9, 1985 (age 31)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Occupation(s) Composer, lyricist, singer
Justin Paul
Born (1985-01-03) January 3, 1985 (age 32)
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Occupation(s) Composer, lyricist, singer

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, known together as Pasek and Paul, are an American songwriting duo and composing team for musical theater, films, and television.[1][2] Their works include A Christmas Story, Dogfight, Edges, Dear Evan Hansen, and James and the Giant Peach. Their original songs have been featured on NBC's Smash, and in the film La La Land, for which they won both the Golden Globe and Academy Awards for Best Original Song for the song "City of Stars".[3][4][5]

Both artists are graduates of the University of Michigan[6] and winners of the American Theatre Wing's 2007 Jonathan Larson Award,[7] which honors achievement by composers, lyricists and librettists.

University of Michigan[edit]

Pasek and Paul started working together as freshmen at the University of Michigan where they completed their BFA degrees in musical theatre in December 2006.[8] Both got "background" roles in the school's musical theater production, which inspired them to write the series of songs turned into a show, Edges.


A Christmas Story, The Musical[edit]

In 2010, Pasek and Paul joined the creative team of A Christmas Story, The Musical. The musical opened at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre on December 9, 2010.[9] Since the Seattle premiere, the show recruited John Rando and choreographer Warren Carlyle to launch a national tour in 2011, concluding at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.[10] The musical played a limited engagement on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre from November 19, 2012 through December 30, 2012; this was Pasek and Paul's Broadway debut as songwriters.[11]

The show received three Tony Award nominations in 2013, for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre.[12] It also received six Drama Desk Award nominations including Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Music, Outstanding Choreography (Warren Carlyle), Outstanding Book of a Musical (Joseph Robinette), Outstanding Orchestrations (Larry Blank), and Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (John Bolton).[13]

The cast album was recorded and produced by Sony Masterworks and is published through Warner/Chappell Music.[14]


Pasek and Paul, together with book writer Peter Duchan, adapted the 1991 River Phoenix and Lili Taylor film Dogfight for their musical Dogfight. The musical premiered Off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre on July 16, 2012 after previews from June 27 and was directed by Joe Mantello and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli.[15] The show closed on August 19, 2012.

The musical was the recipient of the 2011 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater given by the American Academy of Arts and Letters[16] and two 2013 Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Musical and Outstanding Choreographer (Christopher Gattelli).[17] It was nominated for 2013 Drama League Awards for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical and Distinguished Performance (Lindsay Mendez).[18]

The Dogfight Original Cast Album was released digitally on April 30, 2013 and as a CD in May, 2013 by Sh-K-Boom Records.


Edges is a song cycle about the trials and tribulations of moving into adulthood. It examines the search for love, commitment and meaning. Edges premiered at the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor, Michigan on April 3, 2005.[6] Social media created a dedicated fan base nicknamed "Edge-heads".[19] It has had over 200 productions worldwide in Australia,[20] South Africa,[21] Denmark,[22][23] France,[24] South Korea, the United Kingdom,[25] Canada,[26] the Philippines,[27] and across the United States.[28]

James and the Giant Peach[edit]

Pasek and Paul wrote the score to the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach. The show premiered at the Norma Terris Theatre at Goodspeed Musicals in 2010 in a developmental production, and was directed by Graciela Daniele and choreographed by Pilobolus.[29]

Dear Evan Hansen[edit]

Their musical Dear Evan Hansen premiered at the Arena Stage (Washington, D.C.) on July 30, 2015, running through August 23. The musical is inspired by a traumatic incident in Pasek's life, with the death of a high school student. The book was written by Steven Levenson and Michael Greif directs, with Ben Platt starring as Evan.[30][31][32]

The musical made its Off-Broadway debut in March 2016 (previews) at the Second Stage Theatre's Tony Kiser Theatre. Again directed by Greif, most of the Arena Stage cast appears in the Off-Broadway production.[33] The musical is a recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

Dear Evan Hansen premiered on Broadway on November 14, 2016 and opened December 4, 2016 at the Music Box Theatre. At the 71st Tony Awards, it is nominated for nine awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Actor in a Musical for Platt.


Other works include If You Give A Pig A Pancake and Duck For President for Theatreworks USA,[34] and Dr. Williams, written for the Orchard Project's 24 Hour Musicals benefit. The show starred Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Cheyenne Jackson. Pasek and Paul were featured in the documentary film One Night Stand about the process.[35]

Their New York premiere was a concert of songs titled Become: The Music of Pasek & Paul and was performed May 14, 2006 at Joe's Pub at the Public Theatre. The evening was a benefit for the Wylie Foundation and featured performers including Gavin Creel, Cheyenne Jackson, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Steven Pasquale. The evening was produced and directed by Jamie McGonnigal.



As television songwriters, their original songs were featured on Season 2 of NBC's Smash, and have risen to the Top 25 on the iTunes Pop Charts. (See: List of songs in Smash)

Johnny and the Sprites[edit]

Pasek and Paul wrote music for six episodes of the Disney Channel show Johnny and the Sprites, including music for one story in the series' premiere episode.

The Flash[edit]

Pasek and Paul also wrote the original song "Runnin' Home to You" performed by Grant Gustin for the musical crossover episode of The Flash "Duet" between The Flash and Supergirl.[36]


La La Land[edit]

Pasek and Paul wrote the lyrics for the film musical La La Land. Justin Hurwitz wrote the music. The film stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and is written and directed by Damien Chazelle.[37] The film, in its world premiere, was the opening film at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2016.[38] "City of Stars", their song from the film composed by Justin Hurwitz, won the 2017 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.[4] "City of Stars" and "Audition" received nominations for Best Original Song at the 89th Academy Awards.[39] They won the 2017 Academy Award for Best Original Song for "City of Stars." [40]

The Greatest Showman[edit]

Pasek and Paul will be writing the lyrics for the upcoming 2017 film musical, The Greatest Showman.[citation needed]

Other film work[edit]

Pasek and Paul also wrote the song "Get Back Up Again" for the film Trolls.


Adelaide Cabaret Festival[edit]

In 2010, Pasek and Paul performed at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in Adelaide, Australia.[41]

American Musical Theatre Live Paris[edit]

In 2013, Pasek and Paul performed and hosted master classes in Paris, France at American Musical Theatre Live Paris.[42][43]

Ronacher Vienna[edit]

In 2013, Pasek and Paul hosted a master class at the Performing Center Austria and performed at the Ronacher in Vienna, Austria.[44][45]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2007 Jonathan Larson Grant N/A Honorees
Dramatist Guild Fellowship (2007–08) N/A Honorees
2011 Sundance Institute Fellowship N/A Honorees
American Academy of Arts and Letters, Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater N/A Honorees
ASCAP Foundation Award Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award N/A Honorees
Songwriter's Fellowship Award N/A Honorees
2013 Tony Award Best Original Score A Christmas Story: The Musical Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Music Nominated
Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Musical Dogfight Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding New Score Nominated
2016 The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding Original New Play or Musical Dear Evan Hansen Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Lyrics Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding New Score Nominated
Obie Award Musical Theater, Music and Lyrics Won
Hollywood Music in Media Award Best Song in a Feature Film ("City of Stars") La La Land Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award Best Music Won
Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Song ("City of Stars") Won
Best Song ("Audition (The Fools Who Dream)") Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Song ("City of Stars") Won
Best Song ("Audition (The Fools Who Dream)") Nominated
Satellite Award Best Original Song ("City of Stars") Won
Best Original Song ("Audition (The Fools Who Dream)") Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Award Best Original Song ("City of Stars") Won
Best Original Song ("Audition (The Fools Who Dream)") Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Original Song ("City of Stars") Won
2017 Academy Award Best Original Song ("City of Stars") Won
Best Original Song ("Audition (The Fools Who Dream)") Nominated
Tony Award Best Original Score Dear Evan Hansen Pending

†: Pasek and Paul became the youngest winners of the Jonathan Larson Grant in history.

Personal life[edit]

Pasek is the son of professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek.[46] Pasek's alma mater is University of Michigan and Friends' Central School.

Paul's alma mater is University of Michigan and Staples High School.


  1. ^ "Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Win Best Original Song Oscar for "City of Stars" from La La Land". 
  2. ^ "Jonathan Larson Awards"., February 16, 2007
  3. ^ "Pasek and Pauls New Song for 'Smash' Sung by Katharine McPhee"
  4. ^ a b Barone, Joshua, Golden Globe Winners 2017, The New York Times, January 8, 2017.
  5. ^ Oscars 2017. The New York Times, February 27, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "UM Musical Theatre Department.News Of Graduates.2011 - 12". University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, accessed July 27, 2012
  7. ^ "Larson Grants Recipients"., accessed July 27, 2012
  8. ^ "Biography of Benj Pasek"., accessed July 27, 2012
  9. ^ "5th Avenue Theatre Presents 'A Christmas Story'"., November 9, 2010
  10. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "John Rando Will Direct 'Christmas Story' Tour; John Bolton, Gene Weygandt, Rachel Bay Jones Star". Playbill, September 30, 2011
  11. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "'A Christmas Story, The Musical!' Will Be Unwrapped at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in November". Playbill, July 26, 2012
  12. ^ "The Tony Award Nominees - All Categories". 
  13. ^ "". 
  14. ^ Playbill. September 25, 2012
  15. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "'Dogfight', New Musical About Cruelty and Hope, Opens in NYC; Lindsay Mendez and Derek Klena Star". Playbill, July 16, 2012
  16. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Musicals by Duchan, Pasek, Paul and Gerle Win 2011 Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater". Playbill, February 14, 2011
  17. ^ "The Piano Lesson, The Whale & Dogfight Honored at 2013 Lucille Lortel Awards"., May 6, 2011
  18. ^ Cox, Gordon. "Off Broadway musicals outnumber Broadway shows in the tuner category". Variety, April 23, 2013
  19. ^ "'Edges' - Show Details, October 20, 2008"., accessed July 27, 2012
  20. ^ "'Edges A Song Cycle' - Sydney Production (OPENS MARCH 25)", 16 March 2010
  21. ^ "Pasek and Pauls 'Edges'", October 5, 2011
  22. ^ "Music Theatre Professor Directs Production in Denmark"., July 11, 2011
  23. ^ Edges[dead link]
  24. ^ "Edges coming to Paris". AMT Live. Retrieved April 28, 2013. 
  25. ^ Tay, Rebecca. "Fringe Review. Edinburgh Fringe 2010. 'Edges - the Musical'"., 19 August 2010
  26. ^ "Toronto Premiere of 'Edges'"., September 18, 2008
  27. ^ "Ateneo Blue Repertory Presents Musical Revue 'Edges'"., July 18, 2010
  28. ^ Gans, Andrew. "'Pasek and Paul's Edges to Play Sondheim Center with Alvin, Bashor and Hanlon"., February 15, 2008
  29. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "'James and the Giant Peach, the Musical', Blossoms With the Help of Pilobolus, Oct. 21". Playbill, October 21, 2010
  30. ^ Rothstein, Mervyn. "Next to Normal 's Michael Greif Stirs Up More Family Drama With Dear Evan Hansen", July 6, 2015
  31. ^ Gioia, Michael. "Pasek and Paul's Dear Evan Hansen, About the High School Struggle to Fit In, Premieres in D.C.", July 30, 2015
  32. ^ Marks, Peter. "Dear Evan Hansen: Original story, high hopes for Benj Pasek and Justin Paul" Washington Post, July 10, 2015
  33. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Pasek and Paul's 'Dear Evan Hansen' Bows in New York", Playbill, March 26, 2016
  34. ^ "Onstage. If You Give A Pig A Pancake, January 24, 2010". Penn State, accessed July 27, 2012
  35. ^ "'One Night Stand' Documentary Feat. Cheyenne Jackson, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Mandy Gonzalez et al. Makes NewFest Premiere, 7/24"., July 24, 2011
  36. ^ Agard, Chancellor (January 31, 2017). "The Flash-Supergirl musical crossover to feature songs by Rachel Bloom, Dear Evan Hansen duo". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 31, 2017. 
  37. ^ Gans, Andrew and Viagas, Robert. "La La Land Film, With Ryan Gosling, to Feature Songs by Pasek and Paul and Justin Hurwitz" Playbill, March 8, 2016
  38. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Watch New Trailer for Forthcoming La La Land' Movie Musical" Playbill, August 23, 2016
  39. ^ "Oscar Nominations 2017: See the Full List". Vanity Fair. January 24, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  40. ^ "Oscar Winners 2017". 26 February 2017 – via 
  41. ^ "Festival Centre's Adelaide Cabaret Festival presents Along the Way: An Evening with Pasek and Paul. Australian Exclusive"., 14 April 2010
  42. ^ "Musical Theatre Master Class with Pasek & Paul". AMT Live. Archived from the original on July 3, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Pasek & Paul's EDGES". Broadway World. June 7, 2013. 
  44. ^ "". 
  45. ^ "Musical Vienna - Die offizielle Seite der VBW". Musical Vienna. 
  46. ^

External links[edit]