Hail To The Victors (And Justin Paul)

Saturday’s University of Michigan graduation ceremonies — coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the institution — caused a bit of controversy. Some students were disappointed there was no keynote speaker.

But everyone loved the entertainment.

Justin Paul — the Staples Class of 2003 alum — joined with songwriting partner (and fellow Michigan Bicentennial Alumni Award winner) Benj Pasek in a special musical performance.

The Oscar and Golden Globe Award winners — accompanied by UM School of Music Theater & Dance seniors — entertained the 10,758 graduates and many more family and friends with “Amaizing Blue Medley.” It included songs from the duo’s “La La Land” movie and “Dear Evan Hansen” Broadway smash, along with original references to UM.

(Earlier today, Pasek and Paul earned a Best Original Score Tony nomination, for “Hansen.”)

Click below for a video of the cold and windy but energetic event (which unfortunately omits the “Amaizing” pun in the graphics). Justin and Benj begin at the 2:30 mark.

Congrats to the UM graduates from Westport: Siri Andrews, Perri Cohen, Jonny Denowitz, Jen Dimitrief, Anna Fiolek, Louisa Freeman, Jason Hoving, Julia Kaner, DJ Petta, Rusty Schindler, Lily Seo and Bailey Valente.

(Hat tip: Westport 2nd selectman Avi Kaner — proud parent of 2017 University of Michigan grad Julia Kaner)

The view from the stage of the 109,000-seat stadium.

9 responses to “Hail To The Victors (And Justin Paul)

  1. What a fantastic song! What a talented Westporter, Justin Paul is! My guess is this “Amazing Blue” song will become a U. Michigan recruiting tool. Thanks for sharing, Dan and Avi.

  2. Tammy Barry

    Add another graduate– Westporter Lily Seo!!!

  3. Fred Cantor

    Justin Paul will probably complete the Oscar, Tony, Grammy Trifecta within the next year–and justifiably so. But if only he had chosen to attend another Big Ten institution, he would have had a shot at an even rarer honor: dotting the i in the greatest marching band song of all: the unparalleled Script Ohio

    Justin, I wish you had become a Buckeye..

  4. Becky Ruthven

    M go Blue! It is our ‘family’s school’ and it’s great to see how many alums are around here. Thanks!

  5. Becky Ruthven

    Just have to add that my grandfather was the Prez from 1929 to 1951. Is there an alum group in the tri-state area for us old folks?

  6. For those interested, you can view/hear the montage of excerpts of past commencement speeches that was played in lieu of a live speaker. It includes powerful words from many Presidents of the United States and civic, government, and business leaders. Simply slide to the 2 hour, 27 second mark (yes, read that correctly) at the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgT1XnweiVE

  7. Nancy Hunter

    University graduation ceremony meets Hollywood?
    (And) No words for it. I’d be disappointed, too.

  8. It is so inspiring to see Justin there with Julia , both Westporters and to think when he was in eighth grade, his mom brought him by the photo studio to get his first headshot… it astounds the mind… and fills the heart with wonder …
    Good for you and for the world ! Justin …