A Producer's Pre-Tonys Diary, Week 4: Puppies and Parties

Caitlin Clements
Composers Justin Paul and Benj Pasek, and Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman at the cast album celebration hosted by Atlantic.

Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21

When I pop into Macy’s for some unrelated shoe shopping, I spot a dress that just might be the winner for Tony night. It’s coming home with me for further deliberation, and for input from my pals who’d accompanied me on the initial dress hunt. Feeling relief at potentially having checked that item off the to-do list!

My parents are in town for a few days and it’s wonderful to spend the weekend enjoying a number of great performances with them. First, a return visit to Waitress to see Sara Bareilles (an early friend of Dear Evan Hansen who attended our opening night), radiant and heartbreaking in the lead role of Jenna; then, a late-night jazz cabaret at 54 Below that’s part of an alumni weekend in the city of my alma mater, William & Mary. It’s a particularly fun moment of worlds colliding with new-ish theater contacts and old college friends in the same room enjoying a night of great music.

Monday, May 22

The theater may be “dark” today with no Monday performance, but we still have a full day of meetings in the office with the extended team who work behind the scenes to keep the show running smoothly on a daily basis. That evening, I arrive home excited to catch our leading man Ben Platt on Stephen Colbert. He’s debuting the song “For Forever” for the first time outside the show, accompanied by our crazy-talented Dear Evan Hansen band. It’s stunning. For tonight’s viewing, I’m joined on the couch by my faithful canine companion Gatsby. If you look closely in the show’s Playbill, you’ll spot him credited as a proud “company mascot” alongside some of the other beloved pups within the DEH family. He also gets (mostly willingly) turned into a walking, wagging billboard on occasion... 

Tuesday, May 23

At tonight's performance, we welcome the first large group of New York City public high school students in conjunction with ArtsConnection, a nonprofit that provides access to innovative arts programming for students throughout the five boroughs who might not otherwise have such opportunities. After seeing the production, and participating in a post-show talkback with members of the cast and creative team, the students will create visual art pieces reflecting their personal experiences of seeing Dear Evan Hansen, which will ultimately be hung in our theater.

For the past few months, I’ve worked with the ArtsConnection staff to help launch the program, doing everything from assisting with the creation of application materials for the students; to preparing ArtsConnection teaching artists with the appropriate show-centric enrichment materials for their pre-show workshops, where students had the chance to engage with cast members Will Roland and Laura Dreyfuss; to working with our general management team on a game plan for displaying the student art throughout the theater and on our official website. In mid-June, we’ll welcome the students back for a “gallery opening” reception at Theatre District institution Sardi’s. Can’t wait to see what the students have been inspired to create after seeing the show!

Thursday, May 24

Before Memorial Day Weekend, the full Dear Evan Hansen family gathers at a post-show rooftop celebration hosted by Atlantic Records to toast the music team and the original cast recording, released earlier this spring. The gang’s all here at the Haven Rooftop in the Theater District, from our album engineer Derik Lee, copyist Emily Grishman, and keyboard programmer Randy Cohen, to our talented band and the posse of music interns that have played an integral role along the way.

Midway through the evening, Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman offers a toast to the efforts of all involved on the album, which he says has helped to “open up theater music to a whole new generation of fans.”  Composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire offer a few remarks and thanks of their own, before the festivities resume and the group enjoys the opportunity to while away a summer evening with some good drinks, good tunes (the kind of delightfully eclectic mix you get with so many music buffs in one place), and very good company. 

Tony Awards 2017