Pasek and Paul

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 films La La Land, for which they won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Song for the song "City of Stars", and The Greatest Showman.[3][4][5] Their work on original musical Dear Evan Hansen has received widespread critical acclaim and earned them the Tony Award for Best Original Score.

Pasek and Paul
Benj Pasek (left) and Justin Paul, 2009
Background information
GenresMusical Theatre
MembersBenj Pasek
Justin Paul
Benj Pasek
Born (1985-06-09) June 9, 1985
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Occupation(s)Composer, lyricist, singer
Justin Paul
Born (1985-01-03) January 3, 1985
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Occupation(s)Composer, lyricist, singer

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.


Start at the University of Michigan

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. While Pasek usually writes lyrics and Paul usually writes music, they opted to share credit for both elements of the songwriting.[9]

Musical theatre

Early projects

While still in college they wrote Edges, a song cycle about the trials and tribulations of moving into adulthood and the search for meaning. Premiering in Ann Arbor, Michigan on April 3, 2005,[6] it proved popular on social media[10] and within several years it had over 200 productions worldwide, with countries including Australia,[11] South Africa,[12] Denmark,[13][14] France,[15] South Korea, the United Kingdom,[16] Canada,[17] the Philippines,[18] and the United States.[19]

Their New York premiere on May 14, 2006 was a benefit concert of original songs titled Become: The Music of Pasek & Paul. Presented by Jamie McGonnigal,[20] performers included Gavin Creel, Cheyenne Jackson, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Steven Pasquale.[21] They contributed to the 2006 off-Broadway musical White Noise: A Cautionary Musical, which won Talkin' Broadway's 2006 Summer Theatre Festival Citation for Outstanding Original Score.[22]

Pasek and Paul wrote the score to the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, which premiered in 2010 through Goodspeed Musicals.[23] Other works include If You Give A Pig A Pancake (2010) and Duck For President for Theatreworks USA,[24] 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 2011 documentary film One Night Stand about the process.[25] They wrote the lyrics and music to the 2012 musical Dogfight,[26] also contributing to A Christmas Story, The Musical, which was nominated for a Tony Award in 2013 for Best Original Score.[27]

Dear Evan Hansen (2015)

Pasek and Paul wrote the music and lyrics to their musical Dear Evan Hansen. The musical, inspired by the death of a fellow student while Pasek was in high school, features a book by Steven Levenson. Directed by Michael Greif and starring Ben Platt, it premiered at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. on July 30, 2015.[28][29][30] It made its Off-Broadway debut in March 2016 at the Second Stage Theatre,[31] and on Broadway on November 14, 2016, opening three weeks later at the Music Box Theatre. At the 71st Tony Awards, it was nominated for nine awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Actor in a Musical for Platt. It won six awards including Best Musical and Best Original Score for the duo. At the 2018 Grammy Awards, Dear Evan Hansen won Best Musical Theater Album.[32] The musical received the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and a 2016 Obie Award for Musical Theatre.[33]


The duo have written original music for several television shows. As of 2007, Pasek and Paul were writing music for the Disney Channel show Johnny and the Sprites,[22] with songs used in six episodes and for one story in the season's premiere.

Their original material was featured on season 2 of NBC's Smash in 2013,[34] and have risen to the Top 25 on the iTunes Pop Charts.

Pasek and Paul also wrote the original song "Runnin' Home to You" performed by Grant Gustin for The Flash episode "Duet", a musical crossover between The Flash and Supergirl.[35] Melissa Benoist sang it in Supergirl's "Crisis on Earth-X" crossover episode.[36]


Pasek and Paul wrote the 2016 song "Get Back Up Again" for the film Trolls,[37] as well as five original songs for the 2016 animated direct-to-video feature Tom and Jerry: Back to Oz.[38]

They wrote the lyrics for the musical romantic comedy-drama film La La Land, which had music written by Justin Hurwitz.[39] The film, in its world premiere, was the opening film at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2016.[40] The film's track "City of Stars", with their lyrics and composition 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,[41] and they won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "City of Stars."[42]

Pasek and Paul wrote the songs for the 2017 musical drama film The Greatest Showman. About the Barnum & Bailey Circus, the film premiered on December 8, 2017.[43] The duo's song "This Is Me" won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song[44] and was nominated for Best Original Song at the 90th Academy Awards.

In collaboration with Alan Menken, Pasek and Paul wrote new songs for Disney's 2019 live action film adaptation of Aladdin. The film also includes original 1992 song compositions written by Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice.[45] Pasek and Paul will also write songs for Disney's upcoming live-action film adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.[46][47] The duo has also been selected to write songs for The Planets, the working title of an animated film from Blue Sky Studios. It is projected to reach theaters in 2022.[48][49] For Sony Pictures Animation the duo has been hired to write songs for the film Medusa.

Pasek and Paul will also adapt Dear Evan Hansen as a feature film for Universal Pictures and director Stephen Chbosky.[50]

Awards and nominations

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") Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Song ("City of Stars") Won
Best Song ("Audition") Nominated
Satellite Award Best Original Song ("City of Stars") Won
Best Original Song ("Audition") Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Award Best Original Song ("City of Stars") Won
Best Original Song ("Audition") 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") Nominated
Tony Award Best Original Score Dear Evan Hansen Won
2018 Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Won
Best Song Written for Visual Media ("City of Stars") La La Land Nominated
Hollywood Music in Media Award Best Song in a Feature Film ("This Is Me") The Greatest Showman Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Song ("This Is Me") Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Original Song ("This Is Me") Won
Academy Award Best Original Song ("This Is Me") Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics ("In The Market For A Miracle") A Christmas Story Live! Nominated

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

Personal lives

Pasek is the son of Temple University professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek.[51] His alma mater is the University of Michigan and Friends' Central School.[52]

Paul's alma mater is the University of Michigan and Staples High School. Paul is married; he and his wife have a daughter, born in 2016.[52]


  1. "Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Win Best Original Song Oscar for "City of Stars" from La La Land".
  2. "Pasek and Paul Among Winners of Jonathan Larson Awards". BroadwayWorld. February 16, 2007.
  3. Hetrick, Adam (February 1, 2013). "THE SCREENING ROOM: Pasek and Paul's New Song for "Smash," Sung by Katharine McPhee". Playbill. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  4. Barone, Joshua, Golden Globe Winners 2017, The New York Times, January 8, 2017.
  5. Oscars 2017. The New York Times, February 27, 2017.
  6. "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. Paulson, Michael, "What It's Like to Make It in Showbiz With Your Best Friend". The New York Times, November 13, 2016, p. AR6, sub. nom "Best Friends, Making It in Showbiz." Accessed August 8, 2017
  10. "Edges - Show Details, October 20, 2008"., accessed July 27, 2012
  11. "Edges A Song Cycle - Sydney Production (OPENS MARCH 25)" Archived 2012-04-05 at the Wayback Machine, 16 March 2010
  12. "Pasek and Pauls Edges", October 5, 2011
  13. "Music Theatre Professor Directs Production in Denmark" Archived 2012-08-01 at, July 11, 2011
  14. Edges
  15. "Edges coming to Paris". AMT Live. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  16. Tay, Rebecca. "Fringe Review. Edinburgh Fringe 2010. Edges - the Musical" Archived 2012-03-30 at the Wayback Machine., 19 August 2010
  17. "Toronto Premiere of Edges"., September 18, 2008
  18. "Ateneo Blue Repertory Presents Musical Revue Edges"., July 18, 2010
  19. Gans, Andrew. "Pasek and Paul's Edges to Play Sondheim Center with Alvin, Bashor and Hanlon", (March 2018).
  20. "BECOME: The Music of Pasek & Paul at Joe's Pubs", New York Theatre Guide, May 3, 2006, retrieved March 27, 2018
  21. Gans, Andrew (May 2, 2006), "Benanti, Keenan-Bolger, Hilty, Jackson and More Set for Become Concert", Playbill, retrieved March 27, 2018
  22. Jones, Kenneth (October 16, 2007), "Pasek and Paul's Edges Gets Equity Bow in Albany with Hanlon and Alvin", Playbill
  23. Jones, Kenneth. "'James and the Giant Peach, the Musical', Blossoms With the Help of Pilobolus, Oct. 21" Archived 2010-11-14 at the Wayback Machine. Playbill, October 21, 2010
  24. "Onstage. If You Give A Pig A Pancake, January 24, 2010" Archived April 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Penn State, accessed July 27, 2012
  25. "One Night Stand Documentary Feat. Cheyenne Jackson, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Mandy Gonzalez et al. Makes NewFest Premiere, 7/24"., July 24, 2011
  26. "Dogfight",, archived from the original on 2018-03-28
  27. "The Tony Award Nominees - All Categories". Tony Awards. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  28. Rothstein, Mervyn. "Next to Normal 's Michael Greif Stirs Up More Family Drama With Dear Evan Hansen", July 6, 2015
  29. Gioia, Michael. "Pasek and Paul's Dear Evan Hansen, About the High School Struggle to Fit In, Premieres in D.C.", July 30, 2015
  30. Marks, Peter. "Dear Evan Hansen: Original story, high hopes for Benj Pasek and Justin Paul" Washington Post, July 10, 2015
  31. Clement, Olivia. "Pasek and Paul's Dear Evan Hansen Bows in New York", Playbill, March 26, 2016
  32. "Grammys 2018 Winners: The Complete List (Live Updating)". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  33. Obie Awards, 2016 Winners.
  34. Hetrick, Adam (February 1, 2013), "Pasek and Paul's New Song for "Smash," Sung by Katharine McPhee", Playbill
  35. 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.
  36. "Benoist Sings in Supergirl Crisis on Earth-X Part 1 Crossover". November 27, 2017. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  37. "Get Back Up Again", AllMusic, 2016, retrieved March 27, 2018
  38. "Tom and Jerry: Back to Oz", IMDb, 2016, retrieved March 27, 2018
  39. 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
  40. Gans, Andrew. "Watch New Trailer for Forthcoming La La Land' Movie Musical" Playbill, August 23, 2016
  41. "Oscar Nominations 2017: See the Full List". Vanity Fair. January 24, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  42. "Oscar Winners 2017". 26 February 2017 via
  43. "Cunard to Broadcast LIVE Red Carpet from "The Greatest Showman" World Premiere on Flagship Queen Mary 2". Cision. December 6, 2017. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  44. Golden Globe Awards for "This Is Me", January 7, 2018
  45. "VIDEO: Pasek & Paul to Team with Menken on Live-Action ALADDIN; Miranda Confirmed for LITTLE MERMAID". Broadway World.
  46. "Disney Developing Live-Action Snow White (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. October 31, 2016. Retrieved July 17, 2017.
  47. >"Marc Webb Eyed to Direct Disney's 'Snow White' Remake (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. May 30, 2019. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  48. Amidi, Amid (February 13, 2018). "Karen Disher Set To Be First Woman Director At Blue Sky Studios". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  49. "Fox Pushes Back Alita and The Predator, Dates Branagh's Death on the Nile". February 13, 2018.
  50. Busch, Anita (November 29, 2018). "Tony Award-Winning Musical Dear Evan Hansen Will Be Universal Pictures, Marc Platt Film; Wonder's Stephen Chbosky May Direct". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  51. "Home - The International Congress of Infant Studies". The International Congress of Infant Studies. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  52. Paulson, Michael (November 10, 2016). "What It's Like to Make It in Showbiz With Your Best Friend". The New York Times. A. G. Sulzberger.
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