Filichia Features: Edges: Before Pasek and Paul’s Tonys and Oscars

Filichia Features: Edges: Before Pasek and Paul’s Tonys and Oscars

It was literally seven years ago this week that I said these words on, where I participate in a podcast most every Sunday.

“I just saw a terrific musical at the White Plains Performing Arts Center. It was only there for two performances, but, oh, was I glad I attended one of them.

Edges is the work of two young writers, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who collaborated on both music and lyrics for a song cycle that crackerjack director Jeremy Quinn has turned into a stage piece – an excellent one.

“The lyrics were extraordinarily intelligent and put to nice pop rock music. How about these for song ideas?”

At this point in the podcast, I gave one sentence synopses of the songs I most admired. That’s really all I had time for, because many shows had opened that week; host James Marino and fellow commentator Matthew Murray had a good deal to say, too.

But let’s now have a more detailed look at Edges, which Pasek and Paul started in 2005 when they were sophomores at the University of Michigan. A dozen years later, we see that it hasn’t dated. Songs about such subjects as the faux friends we make on Facebook still resonate.

If this quick look at Edges intrigues you to the point where you check out the show and like it, you have a great advertising line right in place: “From the writers who won an Oscar and Golden Globe for La La Land and a Tony for Dear Evan Hansen!” Don’t neglect to add in your press releases that they did it in a mere 155 days – the fastest pace for all songwriters who have ever secured all three awards.

Edges won’t be hard to produce because it requires two men, two women and no set. It’s a revue in which each performer plays different characters throughout the piece. Everyone gets eight chances to sing in solos, duets and ensemble pieces.

Of course, if you care to add cast members to lessen the load on each performer and share the wealth, Pasek and Paul won’t mind. They’ve gone on record to say that they “loved seeing productions” that not only involved larger casts and video projections, but also ones that took the liberty of rearranging the songs. Wherever a choreographer is inspired to provide dances is fine with them, too.

“Caitlyn and Haley” involves two teenaged sisters. Haley is the younger who complains that Caitlyn feels that she’s outgrown her; Caitlyn has no problem admitting just that. Yet Haley is not the only one who feels that she’s lost something; Caitlyn admits that she does, too -- but moving on often means a total inability to recapture feelings that once were.

“In Short” is, in short, arguably the song with the blackest humor found in any show song of this and last century. A man whose girlfriend has left him now wishes that she encounter accidents, baldness, choking, defenestration, electrocution and far more atrocities to fill out the other 21 letters of the alphabet. You may hate yourself for laughing, but laugh you will.

When your theatergoers see the odd title “I Hmm You” in their programs, they will probably be mystified – until they hear the song. Soon they’ll be laughing.

It’s about a man and woman, neither of whom is ready to use the word “love,” and while they suspect that they’re beyond “like,” a “hmm” will have to serve as the verb of the sentence until they’re ready – if indeed they ever are – to commit to each other and admit to love.

There’s also a woman who’s found the “Man of My Dreams.” He’s perfect in every way aside from the one little fact that he’s gay. Not that he’s admitted it, but this woman infers it. “If he doesn’t wanna tell me,” she concludes, “then I don’t wanna know.”

The song reminds us that some people are looking for companionship and fun, to which sex takes a distant third place (if it’s even that high on the list).

That’s what makes Edges edgy – and entertaining. These are the little things in life that we all notice. The only difference is Pasek and Paul knew enough to seize the ideas, write about them and come out with memorable material.

Seven years ago, I ended the podcast by saying “I can see Edges playing New World Stages – and hope you can see it there someday.” While that hasn’t happened, don’t bet against Edges eventually landing on West 50th, for Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are now hotter than Mrs. Lovett’s oven.

Who knows? Maybe your production of Edges will be the one to get there.

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You may e-mail Peter at Check out his weekly column each Monday at and Tuesday at His book, The Great Parade: Broadway’s Astonishing, Never-To-Be Forgotten 1963-1964 Season is now available at