Justin Paul’s Next Oscar: P.T. Barnum?

2017 was quite a year for Justin Paul.

The 2003 Staples High School grad and his music writing partner, Benj Pasek, won an Oscar for “La La Land”‘s lyrics, and a Tony for “Dear Evan Hansen.”

The year is almost over. But the insanely talented duo have an ace up their sleeve:

P.T. Barnum.

Pasek and Paul contributed 11 original songs to “The Greatest Showman.” The 20th Century Fox film premieres December 20.

The Hollywood Reporter says they’ll be Oscar contenders — along with the likes of “Beauty and the Beast” (by Alan Menken and Tim Rice) and Sara Bareilles’ “Battle of the Sexes.”

Justin Paul at the Oscars.

The other day, Pasek and Paul took time out from rehearsals of Fox TV’s live musical “A Christmas Story” (December 17, with Maya Rudolph and Matthew Broderick — no, they never stop working) to talk to the Reporter.

Asked about “pushing the limits” with Hugh Jackman, Paul said:

We were, of course, intimidated because he’s such a master of musical theater, especially onscreen. But we were also inspired to write for a lead character that will be portrayed by Hugh, with all of his abilities and his vocal range and everything. It gives a songwriter such clear parameters of the playground, and with Hugh, it’s a really big one.

As for lessons learned from “La La Land,” he noted:

We view this as a window of time. Maybe it lasts for a while and maybe it doesn’t. The winds seem to shift sometimes, and we’ve obviously seen periods where people have really embraced musicals and periods where it’s really fallen out. But there are people who aren’t necessarily Broadway fanatics like we are, who still want to see a musical on Christmas with their families.

The former Staples Player and Orphenian star is no longer on stage. He explained:

As for all the [awards season] events, we definitely feel funny getting dressed up for something because we’re intentionally behind the scenes. There’s such a humbling neurosis that goes along with writing because no matter what you’ve done, the next time you go to write a song, you’re standing at a piano and there’s a high probability that you’ve struck out the first time you try, no matter what. That will never change.

(Click here to read the entire Hollywood Reporter interview.)

7 responses to “Justin Paul’s Next Oscar: P.T. Barnum?

  1. The CD is one of Oprah’s FAVORITE THINGS!

  2. Wonderful to see this post! We’re hoping for many awards for The Greatest Showman that night! The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport continues to struggle back from the 2010 tornado and both hurricanes Irene and Sandy. Having such an amazing spotlight on Barnum might bring extraordinary recognition to the CT landmark Museum and help stimulate a groundswell of support for the ongoing restoration and re-envisioning! The ‘show must go on’ for the Barnum Museum! Many thanks for the wonderful post Dan, and all the best of luck to Mr. Paul! Sincerely, K

  3. I know!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Terry brannigan

    Nice photo of Justin at the Oscars but do you have a photo of Justin at Oscar’s!

  5. An awe-inspiring, amazingly talented, extremely humble young man that I have the pleasure of knowing!
    Looking forward to what Justin’s future holds!
    He makes Westport proud!

  6. This movie is a winner largely because of the songs and the passion with which they were performed. Congratulations Justin!!! All of Staples alumni are proud!!

  7. Dan Lasley (Laz)

    Just saw this movie – fantastic! Then searched the web and found some rehearsal videos that show Justin at the piano with all the actors/singers/dancers around him. He didn’t look much different than when he was in the pit at Bedford, Coleytown, or Staples. So cool.