Third in a series

NEW YORK – Ben Platt’s concert – which is the opening attraction at the renovated Palace Theatre through June 15 – clearly demonstrates that the world includes lovers and haters. OK, perhaps the in-betweeners, too.

Platt, the Tony-winning singer-actor on Broadway, is attracting his diehard fans—in the thousands – to his “Ben Platt Live at The Palace.”  The venue is the fabled theater, in the heart of Times Square, where earlier starring tenants included Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli, two of his idols.

The lovers adored the show – that’s what lovers do – and Platt’s 18-show run, brief residency is not the  traditional Broadway fare. It felt like a CD-launch party, for his new “Honeymind” album —casual, chit-chatty, like a fan party. I found it all astoundingly honest.

Ben Platt, in his three-week run at the Palace Theatre.

It was charming to witness Platt interviewing himself, revealing he came out when he was 12, but his gayness was timely: Broadway is celebrating Pride Month in June, with all Playbills at all shows redressed to display the rainbow hues in the masthead.

 The haters, including  unofficial online reviewers, share the flip side of the coin.

“Three weeks of a yet-to-achieve-actual-stardom performer is an odd way to open the gloriously renovated Palace,” said one online reviewer-turned critic. “Ben Platt sang his little heart out, but it all seemed like a sham, an actor pretending to be a superstar when he’s actually a (not untalented) Broadway middleweight. He plugs his new album eight or was it twenty times? Really?“

For a 30-year-old, Platt’s career has not yet reached the superstar level, but he’s certainly earned his stripes, and he reflects on his past conquests, like the movie “Pitch Perfect” and the Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” which earned him a Tony Award. ‘Nuff said.

Platt: Pitch Perfect at the Palace.

Every night, he’s featuring a different guest artist: Kelli O’Hara was the featured singer, doing “Both Sides Now” with Platt, at the performance I attended, and previous artists have included Kacey Musgraves and  Kristin Chenoweth.

Platt comes off as an earnest vocalist, with a bundle of songs unfamiliar to me, but when he calls for a sing-along, many lovers of his craft immediately chimed in, the lyrics pouring out with gentle passion.

Watching/hearing Platt is somewhat of a peculiarity. He chats a lot but does have things to say – not mere babbling. He names his partner and talks about a planned wedding; he sips a lot of water, from bottles placed at several spots on stage. He has his own brand of choreographics, a style that is repetitive, and more like disco-dancing. And he’s funny; a comedian resides in his soul.

He has two back-up singers, a woman and a man, and a mid-sized orchestra that provides vibrant support. In other words, he’s not merely a singer-actor Broadway musicals; he composed most of his treasured titles.

His Palace residency, thus, is yet another notch on his show biz agenda; you’re on your way to new levels, if you can assemble 18 guest artists, sell merch ranging from concert posters to T-shirts; and hold the attention of your cherished lovers.

As a Tony winner, he strangely bypasses his “Dear Evan Hansen” hit song and delivers instead a secondary tune. Bad move: share what your listeners know.

He shares songs linked to his idols; but the tributes should come in the same moment for continuity – Minnelli’s “Maybe This Time” from “Cabaret” was spotlighted well before Garland’s “Over the Ranbow” from “Wizard of Oz” just prior to his finale.

As for the refurbished Palace: I love the feel and look of the venue, with orchestra and balcony considerations. But the seats line up in tightly spaced rows, when instead a modern house should be an improvement of the past; your knees touch the seats in front of you, like coach in an airplane, and you can’t cross your legs. So yesterday.

The old theater’s entrance was on Broadway; the new one faces W 47th St. understandable because of the constant heavy foot traffic on the avenue. The new theater doesn’t boast a formal “lobby,” but has sectors that clearly want to eliminate a bottleneck, with patrons either ascending an escalator, or heading into an elevator. But guides hustle you in the right direction to properly get you to your seats.

I was in orchestra but had to go “up” to my seats, and the elevator was modernistic, programmed to get you a level or two up to your destination, and down afterwards to ground level. Efficiency, for sure.

And that’s Show Biz…

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