Going on ten years at the top of 2022, anything having to do with Philly-born composers and lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul – musical theater and film’s newly-anointed hitmakers – is paved with gold.
Born to Temple University professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and a student of Friends’ Central High School before moving onto the University of Michigan (where he met Paul), the twosome began working together as freshmen, nailed their BFA degrees in musical theatre in 2006, and started the fast track process on getting their music and lyrics heard with the NYC premiere concert of original songs titled “Become: The Music of Pasek & Paul.” From there, the two worked on the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach in 2010, wrote the lyrics and music to Dogfight in 2012, and contributed to A Christmas Story, The Musical, which was nominated for a Tony Award in 2013 for Best Original Score. From there, things move even faster once they co-crafted Dear Evan Hansen, the now-universally beloved musical starring Ben Platt, that made it to Broadway and won six Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Original Score for the duo. At the 2018 Grammy Awards, Dear Evan Hansen won Best Musical Theater Album.
Next thing you know, Pacek and Paul are doing for film what they did for theater with the musical romantic comedy-drama La La Land (co-produced and co-starring Philly’s John Legend), then, The Greatest Showman, then Disney’s live-action film adaptation of Aladdin. Pasek and Paul will soon write songs for Disney’s upcoming live-action film adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Point is, Pacek and Paul are busy and successful. And beyond sheer talent, how did that happen? You can find that out now that the pair is crafting an immersive 30-day musical theatre songwriting class on the learning platform Monthly.
Once here ($249, season one enrollment ends December 27) Pacek and Paul will teach you about how they developed the foundations of their own original musical, hands-on so that you can as well. Plus, you get a peek into their writers’ room to see how they do it. It isn’t all just watching them, and throughout 15 hours of video lessons, Pasek and Paul will build a new musical from scratch as students learn how the duo approaches everything from developing characters to writing songs.
“By the end of the class, students walk away with an outline of their musical’s book, a roadmap of its score, plus two finished original songs, according to Variety. “We’ve been so fortunate to learn directly from some of the best musical writers of the stage and screen, and we are excited to share what we’ve learned along the way. This is the first time we’ve opened up our songwriting process, and we are thrilled to partner with Monthly to do so,” said Pasek.
“We’re donating a portion of our profits from this class to Musical Theatre Factory, a non-profit artists’ service organization that centers musical theatre makers who exist in the intersections of underrepresented groups and develops their work in a collaborative atmosphere free from critical or commercial pressures. We’re excited that this class, both directly and indirectly, will develop and encourage new voices in musical theatre songwriting,” Paul told Variety.
$249 well spent. And you get to hang with Philly.