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Keeping Up With Lin-Manuel Miranda

I try to keep up with Lin's press clippings so you don't have to. The complete list of Lin's projects
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Video
Lin-Manuel Miranda connects with Zane Lowe to discuss the original Broadway production of ‘Hamilton.’ He talks about hip-hop...

1 day ago

Lin-Manuel Miranda connects with Zane Lowe to discuss the original Broadway production of ‘Hamilton.’ He talks about hip-hop...

Video
Robin Roberts chats with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail and members of the cast for "Hamilton: History Has Its...

1 day ago

Robin Roberts chats with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail and members of the cast for "Hamilton: History Has Its...

This feels a little like the third coming of Hamilton: You had the run at the Public, the Broadway opening, and now this.

The big knock against Hamilton, especially at the beginning, was that only a few people could see it at a time. That’s just the nature of theater. The chance to have folks engage with this en masse has been gratifying. I’m really happy that everybody has access to it now, and Tommy [Kail] did a really wonderful job of capturing something ephemeral. So to have not just a document but a movie of this thing we did that, at the time, sort of felt like we were writing in melting snow…it’s crazy. 

Have you been surprised by the reception? The adoration for the play has never gone away, but the rabid way the filmed version has been debated, and re-debated — it’s sparked this entirely different discussion over what you’re saying with it, and what the work means.

It was a bit of a surprise, yeah. I mean, the big difference for me over what you just termed “the third coming of Hamilton” is that I’m able to actually see and hear the discussion more. I was so busy doing the show that I was sort of insulated from the noise around it: Wake up, do two performances, take care of a newborn child, repeat. Now, it’s like I get to go back and relive that moment of 2016, only the positive and the negative reactions are now bigger and wider and louder. Which, honestly, has been incredible and informative. I’m grateful to hear all of it.

A great play is going to read differently when you revive it or re-introduce it — but the fact that Hamilton is coming back into the broader conversation at the moment when the systemic rot that’s been a part of this country since the beginning…

…and is a huge part of the play as well…yeah.

The timing is extraordinary.

What you’re talking about, in a larger sense, in one of the fascinating aspects of any show. I felt it when were adapting In the Heights and we seeing racism going from latent to blatant in this country. Suddenly, those rants and raps about systemic racism felt way too timely. Way too timely.

It’s been the same with Hamilton. There is a real revolution going on right now, in terms of what we stand for as a country and what we won’t stand for as a country. So the language about revolution in the show really pops. And it’s an origin story not just about the United States but what is and isn’t discussed regarding that origin story. So that’s all mixed in to the ways Hamilton is reflecting, and being reacted to, in 2020.

There’s a scene early on in the [FLS] doc where you’ve all just reunited, you’re dropping in to do a show, and someone says, “Now, people are going to clap for a long time when Lin comes out, so be prepared for that.” And you can sense that the dynamic between you and the group has changed…

The dynamic between me and the world had changed! That’s the really wild thing. For me, being onstage with Freestyle Love Supreme is the only place I can go that’s feels pre-Hamilton. It’s the one place I can go where I can just go bullshit with my admittedly very talented friends [laughs]. There’s a certain irony in only feeling that safety when you’re going out on stage and risking totally falling on your face. But yeah, it’s that weird thing of, “They’re going to freak out that he’s here…and then we can just do our show. Let’s let them have that reaction, and we can go back to doing what we do.”

How far into production on Tick, Tick…Boom were you when everything shut down?

About 10 days. We’d filmed for roughly two weeks before the call came from Netflix, and then we put the sets in storage and will wait until it’s safe to resume production. I’m sure that post-COVID and pre-vaccine, some of the ideas we had are going to be different now. We’re looking at call sheets now that may have risk levels attached to them, which is very surreal and very new in terms of making movies. I’m still in contact with the cast and crew, and they’re all excited to get back to work. But we’re waiting until it’s safe, obviously Nothing’s going to happen until then.

You were involved with the screen adaptation of In The Heights, which actually filmed in Washington Heights…

That was one of the conditions of that becoming a film, by the way. They had to film in the neighborhood. There’s no backlot that looks like that. It’s the combination of pre-war buildings and insane angles, because you’re on a mountain in upper Manhattan! [Laughs] I wanted as many members of the community in the cast. And on a purely selfish level, I wanted to hear the songs written about a specific place sung in that place.

Do you think this could result in a big step forward?

I think this gives us a way to institute a real change now that we have the moment in which a partial reset button can get pushed. We’ve been having all these discussions about white supremacy and systematic racism — so when theater comes back, that’s the time to start talking about a more diverse, inclusive theater. Not later. Now. Let’s make our backstages look as diverse as our casts. Let’s make our audiences look as diverse as our casts. Since it’s not to business as usual on Broadway right now, let’s change the usual business when it’s time to reopen these stages. There’s a chance for us to have a much more equitable American theater when we emerge on the other side of this. So let’s take this opportunity to make it happen.

2 days ago

Lin-Manuel Miranda on ‘Hamilton,’ Freestyle Love Supreme and What Comes Next

Video
Lin-Manuel Miranda connects with Zane Lowe to discuss the original Broadway production of ‘Hamilton.’ He talks about hip-hop...

2 days ago

Lin-Manuel Miranda connects with Zane Lowe to discuss the original Broadway production of ‘Hamilton.’ He talks about hip-hop...

You were raised in a family committed to community activism. How did that impact your life and goals as a creative?

As far back as I can remember, my parents were activists. Whether they were collecting signatures to expand the pool of minority candidates running for elected office or demonstrating to get new schools built in my neighborhood, my parents taught us that if you want change, you need to actively work for it. And they each brought their unique talents to the table. My mom is a clinical psychologist, and she taught me all about empathy—how to really feel what it is to be in someone else’s shoes. My dad is good at working the system, collaborating with people, creating solutions. But all that aside, they have really different artistic tastes—my mom always wants dramatic movies with a cathartic cry at the end, my dad wants pure musical theater escapism. I find that the things I make try to bridge that gap. I write big, old musicals that hopefully have a cathartic cry somewhere in there.

How did you decide which organizations to partner with on COVID-19 relief efforts?

My wife is an engineer and a lawyer, and she was watching what was happening abroad very closely, so we had a sense that COVID-19 was going to hit the U.S. hard early on. Our family decided that we would make personal donations, collaborate with others, and raise funds for two groups that are often forgotten: immigrants and undocumented communities, and live performers, both actors and creatives behind the scenes. Whether it’s to help with job loss, health insurance, food insecurity, or so many other issues, we are trying to get as much cash into the hands of individuals in need as possible.

We’re working to accomplish this goal by working through two organizations, Broadway Cares and the Hispanic Federation. Through TeeRico, my merch company run by my brother-in-law, we’re selling a custom-designed hoodie, T-shirts, and other items, with proceeds going to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund. And on the Charity Network platform (Charitybuzz, Prizeo), we launched RaiseUpFund.com, which is raising funds for immigrant organizations all over the country in partnership with the Hispanic Federation. We are calling on everyone we know for support, from large organizations and foundations like American Express and the Ford Foundation to friends with talents to bring to the table.

The arts community as a whole has been hit hard by COVID-19. What can people best do to support it?

Beyond giving much-needed donations to Broadway Cares and The Actors Fund, participate in online arts programming, become a member of your favorite museum, buy an album, and support small businesses in your community.

What do you think we’re missing right now without live events in our lives?

Experiencing art virtually is what we have now, if we want to remain safe (and we do!), so I have been thinking about how art online offers other benefits. On Google Arts & Culture, you can look at very famous paintings like Goyita, a famous piece from Puerto Rican artist [Rafael] Tufiño, and zoom in so closely that you can see brushstrokes and other details you wouldn’t get to see in a museum. I’m using this time to write as much as I can, so I have something new for when we can gather safely again.

Do you feel that art is more important now than ever?

Imagine this lockdown without any of the entertainment to which you’ve had access—no movies, no TV, no music, no books. Art is escape, art is catharsis, art is distraction, art is illumination—it’s what makes the hard times just a little easier.

5 days ago

Lin-Manuel Miranda Wants To Put You in the Room Where It Happens

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Lin is on this episode of MBMBAM from 33 minutes in. There’s almost no Hamilton talk here but a lot of talk about weird theater...

5 days ago

Lin is on this episode of MBMBAM from 33 minutes in. There’s almost no Hamilton talk here but a lot of talk about weird theater...

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The Film That Lit My Fuse is a Deadline video series that aims to provide an antidote to grim headlines about industry...

5 days ago

The Film That Lit My Fuse is a Deadline video series that aims to provide an antidote to grim headlines about industry...

In his head, Lin-Manuel Miranda has an alternative timeline of what he would be doing right now. The 40-year-old would have recently finished filming his directorial debut, for one, the Netflix adaption of the Broadway musical Tick, Tick… Boom!, which survived just ten days of shooting before everything shut down. Right now, he says, he should be in the edit.

Instead, he’s on a Zoom call, talking to GQ from his home about a filmed version of Hamilton, which wasn’t due out for another year, and he’s apologising for the fact that it doesn’t say “Lin-Manuel Miranda” on his screen, but “Lin-Sebastian’s dad”, as it “defaults to the time I did a parent-teacher conference”.

So, Hamilton is coming to Disney+, which is incredibly exciting – and a year earlier than planned. Talk me through how that decision was made.

We realised pretty early, even when the show was off Broadway, this is going to be a tough ticket. And we sort of realised there’s value in capturing what it feels like in the theatre with this company. And the three days we shot this film was the week before the principals started to leave. We all left the following Friday. So it’s the best rehearsed cast maybe in the history of movies – we were performing and what we’d spent a year doing. When lockdown happened we had around 75 per cent of it – enough of an original, a rough cut, to be able to sell it to Disney and partner with Disney. We didn’t have a final edit. We didn’t have a sound mix, which in a musical is pretty important. But once it became clear there was not going to be any theatre for the foreseeable future, we all kind of pivoted and said, “Oh, this is actually an opportunity to remind people of the power of theatre when there is none.” And so we got to editing and then it just became like racing. We turned in the final cut, like, two weeks ago.

How do you feel generally about the future for Broadway? Are you optimistic that it’s going to bounce back?

I’m optimistic. I’m not optimistic about any kind of timeline. Like I don’t know what theatre looks like on the other side of this, particularly in the absence of a vaccine. One of the books I’ve been reading during this lockdown is Will In The World, the biography of Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt. And I read it because I wanted to know what did Shakespeare do when the plague shut down the houses? Because there was that sort of meme going around, you know, “He wrote King Lear, what the fuck are you doing?” It’s not entirely accurate. He did write some sonnets. Those are pretty good. But it’s, you know, that uncertainty. When we make our calling where people gather, it’s a real one. And what I’m encouraged by is honestly the fact that given that there are no shows right now, it’s actually a time to tackle some of the more systemic issues with our theatre we need to talk about. How to get an audience for Hamilton that is as diverse as the cast on stage. We’re in talks, just for ourselves in this moment – at a time where we’re talking about systemic racism in the United States – on how to make backstage look more like on-stage; how to address some of the inequities when it comes to black folks and people of colour in the theatre industry. It’s still so predominantly white backstage and at the top, so I think we’re seeing people getting their houses in order because there’s time to do it and no one has the excuse that we’re very busy programming our season. So I can only speak for the Hamilton company, but we are hoping that when we come back, we come back into a world where we’re addressing some of these issues and we’re having the tough conversations.

Yourself and Hamilton are natural kind of bedfellows with the Black Lives Matter movement. But you did take a bit of criticism for not maybe speaking out early enough? Was that just an oversight?

Yeah, absolutely. And I called it a moral failure. And I stand by that, you know. I had been tweeting about Black Lives Matter since 2015. I remember us rehearsing “My Shot” for the first time when we heard the there was an acquittal for the police officers who murdered Eric Garner and how heavy that felt in the room and how we cried in the room. But for some reason, the moral blind spot is not bringing Hamilton and its social channels as a brand in alliance with that earlier. And so, you know, I think we’re making up for lost time in that regard. And you’re right, there are natural bedfellows. We are a company made up of black and brown actors who reckon with the origins of our country every night on stage.

Something that always stays in my head is when you hosted SNL just before the 2016 presidential election and you sang at a picture of Trump in the corridor “Never gonna be president”, which was so funny at the time but is hard to watch now. How do you look back on that?

The night before we’d heard the Access Hollywood tapes. I don’t think we’ve ever heard such vulgarity from a presidential candidate full stop. The fact that that was not career ending, I don’t know what that says. But whatever it says ain’t good. But, you know, it is unprecedented that a moment like that happened. And still millions of people said, “This is our guy.”

How are you feeling about the upcoming election?

I am feeling… I don’t know. I’m feeling uncertain, as everyone else is. I think people are certainly energised. I think there is a lot of… I think a lot of what you’re seeing in the streets and in the world is the country really loudly saying, “This guy does not speak for us” and “The integrity of our voting system is more important than ever.” And that’s a big concern of mine. But I have no doubts that the majority of this country does not believe that this president speaks for them. It’s just a matter of that being reflected in the voting booth or in the mail and voting situation that we will probably find ourselves in. We’ve seen there’s no bottom. There’s no bottom to the guy’s actions. I feel positive that more people are speaking out. I feel positive seeing that the overwhelming majority of these protests have been powerful and peaceful and, like, with masks and people handing out sanitisers… I’ve seen the peaceful protests myself in my own neighbourhood. And none of that changes unless we actually dismantle the systems that set them up. You know, it has to be followed – the lip service has to be followed up by meaningful change. I’m encouraged when I see that Minneapolis is looking to reallocate those police funds to the community. I’m encouraged when I see action. It’s very easy to tweet, but much harder to dismantle these inequities.

I guess everyone would want to know if you’re working on another stage show. Any ideas in the locker for that?

Yeah, but I can’t tell you. I mean, it’s weird, because I kind of messed it up because Hamilton had such a public birth, right? Like, I didn’t know the Obamas would call and say, “Do you have anything about America and can you perform it at this podium?” But I did. And so that that was the most public writing I’ve ever done, because I kind of showed everyone the ultrasound in 2009 and then I didn’t finish it until 2015. So I can’t write that way again, because the scrutiny on me is so much greater now. And, you know, the best idea to kill an impulse is to talk about it. But, yes, I’m writing some new things that I think would work nicely in the theatre and I have some time to do it.

OK, so without asking you to give the game away, can I ask how far you are through the writing process for it?

I’m writing the first three or four songs, which I’ll rewrite once I find out what it’s really about. You know, because you start thinking you know what it’s about and then if you get lucky in a place, it starts to tell you what it’s about. And you go, “Oh, shit, I thought I was writing it for this reason, but I’m really writing it for this reason.” So I’m writing the initial impulse songs right now and it’ll tell me how much I did.

6 days ago

Lin-Manuel Miranda: I’ve been writing in lockdown

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The cast of 'Hamilton' use the power of Twitter to answer the internet's burning questions about the now-ubiquitous Broadway...

6 days ago

The cast of 'Hamilton' use the power of Twitter to answer the internet's burning questions about the now-ubiquitous Broadway...

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Beyond ‘Hamilton’ itself, and his debut musical ‘In the Heights’ before that, Miranda composed the soaring earworm “How Far I’ll...

8 days ago

Beyond ‘Hamilton’ itself, and his debut musical ‘In the Heights’ before that, Miranda composed the soaring earworm “How Far I’ll...

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Hamilton OBC on the Kelly Clarkson Show   If you ever thought the "Hamilton" cast may be as much fun as their hit Broadway show...

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Hamilton OBC on the Kelly Clarkson Show If you ever thought the "Hamilton" cast may be as much fun as their hit Broadway show...

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"Hamilton" Cast Finds Out Which Disney/Hamilton Character Combos They Are   (In which Tommy pretends not to know what Moana is.)

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"Hamilton" Cast Finds Out Which Disney/Hamilton Character Combos They Are (In which Tommy pretends not to know what Moana is.)

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The creator and star of "Hamilton," Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the original cast and crew of the hit Broadway show discuss why the...

9 days ago

The creator and star of "Hamilton," Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the original cast and crew of the hit Broadway show discuss why the...

When EW asked Miranda and Kail to break down a Hamilton scene’s journey from the stage to screen, the longtime friends and collaborators chose “Hurricane,” a pivotal song for the titular founding father and one that showcases the blending of the live performances and additional shots that bring the film together — the convergence of making theater and making theater that’s filmed. “This is one of the numbers where we went on stage, outside of the runs that we did on Sunday and Tuesday,” Kail explains. “We were six inches away from Lin with a Steadicam. So the point of view that the [film’s] audience is given is quite different in terms of its proximity.”

“Hurricane,” for those who may be unfamiliar with the show (or U.S. history), is a moment of reckoning for Miranda’s Hamilton, an introspective number in which he reflects on the hardships of his past to make a decision that has massive ramifications for his future — going public with an extramarital affair to preserve his political reputation, at the expense of hurting his wife and family.

From a writing perspective, Miranda says, “This is usually the point in the evening, in any other musical, where the main character realizes how and where they f—ed up and sing a big song about how they’re going to make it right.” But, he continues with a laugh, that’s not what Hamilton does here. “[He’s] faced with this information that his enemies have on him and he wills himself into making a very damaging decision. He basically writes an essay in his own head as to why he should do this stunning act of self-disclosure — he wrote his way to all of these places, he wrote his way to the position he’s in now. If I can write my way out of it, I’ll be okay, and he’s super not going to be.”

The scene begins in a moment of stillness, with Hamilton in the eye of his own personal storm. “Everyone is in repose in the very beginning of the number,” says Kail. “If you watch the entire company, they all are facing away from Hamilton in some way, and Hamilton is in the center of this thing.” Then, the stage’s turntable starts moving and the number comes alive, bringing the audience inside his mind. “What we were able to do was create a closeness to the decision with the lens by really being up with Lin. It’s also a moment that feels like you can create that stillness. There’s a way that the Steadicam floats which feels a little out of time — it’s a contraption that’s on somebody’s body so it breathes with the person, even though they’re holding it completely still, there’s still a movement to it that’s very different than a handheld camera or a camera that’s on sticks. So, it felt like a chance to be with Hamilton in the midst of this stillness before the explosion. And yet, the camera is not locked off in front of him, the camera also has a little bit of movement to it. I think that that creates a sense of anticipation for what’s about to come. There’s an activity to his thinking that becomes physicalized.”

© 2020 LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA AND NEVIS PRODUCTIONS, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Despite having a camera in such close proximity on stage, Miranda says he didn’t have to make adjustments to his performance. “The whole time I was thinking, this is a document of what these audiences have been seeing for a year. It was only about a week and a half, two weeks before I left the show, so the muscle memory of having done it so many times was almost too strong for me to do anything else. But knowing cameras are there and are recording this for all time does change the equation for you. So your challenge is just sort of to get that out of your head and simplify and do your show.”

Adds Miranda, “What’s so fun about the way Tommy and [choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler] have staged the number is that they place all the chess pieces in place. It’s, I think, one of the most stunning tableaus in the show. The tableau around him — which never stops moving, even though it slows down — you see the Revolutionary War, you see [Hamilton’s mistress] Maria Reynolds, you see all the players. It’s like a CAT scan physicalized in time. It always sort of knocks me flat. I really love how Tommy captured it on film.”

9 days ago

How Hamilton brought its 'Hurricane' from stage to screen

Video
‘Hamilton’ Cast Shares Horror Stories of Forgetting Lines and Lyrics    SiriusXM has released some clips from their Hamilton OBC...

9 days ago

‘Hamilton’ Cast Shares Horror Stories of Forgetting Lines and Lyrics SiriusXM has released some clips from their Hamilton OBC...

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Disney Song Challenges with the Cast of Hamilton   This game is fun but the best part is that you get to hear the OBC sing...

10 days ago

Disney Song Challenges with the Cast of Hamilton This game is fun but the best part is that you get to hear the OBC sing...

Video
‘Hamilton’ Cast Shares Horror Stories of Forgetting Lines and Lyrics    SiriusXM has released some clips from their Hamilton OBC...

10 days ago

‘Hamilton’ Cast Shares Horror Stories of Forgetting Lines and Lyrics SiriusXM has released some clips from their Hamilton OBC...

Lin-Manuel Miranda likes to picture the millionaire, Mr. Howell, from “Gilligan’s Island,” saying the brag. You know the one. “Well, I saw it with the original cast.”

On Friday, Miranda will steal that boast from anyone who ever saw “Hamilton” in its blistering first year and a half on Broadway. A live capture taken from two of the last performances with most of the original cast in June 2016 will premiere on Disney+, opening a new (and far less expensive) chapter in Miranda’s ever-evolving pop-culture phenomenon. In just a weekend, over Independence Day, more people will see “Hamilton” than ever before.

“There’s a part of me that just likes taking the brag away from people,” says Miranda, speaking from his home in Manhattan’s Washington Heights. “I wanted the world to have that brag.”

“Everything present at the founding is still present,” says Miranda. “When I am sitting still and listening right now, it’s to the young people who are leading these protests who are saying: This is what we stand for and this is what we won’t stand for. I’m struck by a section that was always treated as comic relief when the show first came out where there’s Samuel Seabury and he’s telling everyone to remain calm. And there’s Hamilton saying there’s nothing calm about what’s happening.” 

“The revolution is coming,” Hamilton says.

“Hamilton” has already been woven into contemporary history. Miranda’s first performance of a song from it came at Barack Obama’s White House. Ever since, the history-making musical been indelibly linked to the Obama era. Michelle Obama called it “the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen in my life.”

But after the election of Donald Trump, “Hamilton” took on a more magnified aura of resistance. Just days after polls closed, Mike Pence, then the vice-president elect, attended a show. The cast, doubting Trump and Pence’s support for minorities, read a letter from the stage asking him to “uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

Trump’s angry response in a series of tweets, Miranda considers “a very early glimpse of the Trump playbook.” Soon, the line “Immigrants, they get the job done” became a more pronounced rallying cry.

“I wrote it as kind of a throwaway line and in the Trump administration it gets this roar of approval,” says Miranda. “You almost feel the audience trying to say, ‘This anti-immigrant sentiment embodied by the current administration is not who we in the audience are.’ Things hit differently than they did in the Obama administration. And they’ll hit differently next year.”

11 days ago

The revolution comes again: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail on ‘Hamilton’

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On the way Hamilton fits into the country’s current conversation about systemic racism and the legacy of slavery

[Slavery] is in the third line of our show. It’s a system in which every character in our show is complicit in some way or another. And again, I think different things resonate differently. …

Hamilton — although he voiced anti-slavery beliefs — remained complicit in the system. And other than calling out Jefferson on his hypocrisy with regards to slavery in Act 2, doesn’t really say much else over the course of Act 2. And I think that’s actually pretty honest. … He didn’t really do much about it after that. None of them did. None of them did enough. And we say that, too, in the final moments of the song. So that hits differently now because we’re having a conversation, we’re having a real reckoning of how do you uproot an original sin?

On creating Broadway roles for people of color with Hamilton

Listen, I’m a musical theater composer because I couldn’t be just a musical theater actor. If I’d settled for being a musical theater actor I’d be hopefully auditioning for a bus-and-truck [production] of West Side Story somewhere. … The realization landed on me early, like there’s no life for you in musical theater because there are no parts. And In the Heights [Miranda’s first Broadway production] really came out of a result of seeing [and] writing what I saw as missing in the musical theater canon for Latinos, and really as simple as: Can we not be holding knives in a gang in the ‘50s? Because that exists. And like, what do we have to show for it nearly 50 years later?

And so every time I write a piece of theater, I’m trying to get us on the board. And that continued with Hamilton, of, how can we write the parts that I didn’t see existing? Really, the only thing I saw that really gave me permission to write musicals was Rent, which was an incredibly diverse cast. And I went from being a fan of musicals to writing musicals when I saw that show, because it was the thing that gave me permission. It was contemporary, and it had Latino actors and Black actors, and it told me you’re allowed to write what you know into a show. No other musical had told me that. … It’s been gratifying to see how these shows Heights and Hamilton in particular, not only provide employment, but also provide like permission and amplification of a lot of other voices.

On this work being ongoing

I never bought into the illusion that the Obamas being in the White House ended racial issues in our country. Just the same way I used to get the question all the time in that first year of, “Now that Hamilton’s here, do you feel like Broadway will be more diverse?” And I was like, no, because shows take years to develop. And I know what’s in the pipeline, and it’s not [diverse]. Next year is going to be even whiter than this year was. … I gird myself for the whiplash in both the country and the particular corner of the world that is theater.

On seeing his musical In the Heights brought to the screen on a large scale — the film is scheduled for release in 2021

I have to give [director] Jon [M. Chu] a lot of credit, because he had a big vision for it, and it was bigger than even my vision of it. I always sort of pictured it as this little indie musical and hopefully we could film it in our neighborhood, because I just don’t think any other neighborhood looks like [New York City’s] Washington Heights. Demographics aside, the hills and the bridge and the literal heights of it, I find it breathtaking every day. I breathe easier when I’m in it.

But Jon also was coming off the success of Crazy Rich Asians. And what he learned on that was, we don’t get a lot of opportunities like this, so we have to swing big. And he really lobbied for a big movie that is also set in this neighborhood. And so filming last summer was one of those joyous experiences of my life because, again, I was writing songs about this neighborhood I loved to be performed onstage. But then to see those songs reinterpreted on the streets where I was writing them was breathtaking.

On not putting pressure on himself to be creatively productive during the pandemic

[I] feed so much on the energy of the city, and I miss that. One of my favorite writing spots is actually taking the train, because you kind of choose your level of engagement. I can sit in a corner of the A train. I can absorb the energy from the folks around me, whatever mariachi or break-dancing group might be happening, wherever folks are getting on and whatever lives are coming on and off the train. And I still have my headphones on and still be in my bubble and write. It’s like all of the energy of interaction without necessarily being drawn out of the writing trance. So I think I miss that the most. …

I’d love to be able to tell you that I am writing King Lear or the sonnets now that the plagues have closed all the playhouses. I’m afraid I can’t, because I’m as worried about the world as anyone else. I think I wake up with stomachaches more often than I don’t, because I worry about what’s going on. I worry about my city reopening too soon and having a second spike. I worry about the protesters and hoping they’re OK. I worry about all the things everyone is worried about.

And I find that because I’m home, it is harder to … distance myself from those thoughts. … And I think that’s OK. Like, the world is being remade in a fundamentally different way because of this pandemic, and just because of where we are. And artists have to give themselves the latitude to acknowledge that. So give yourself a break if you’re not writing right now.

Listen to the full interview here - it’s a great interview. Don’t miss the amazing Heights movie BTS anecdote.

12 days ago

'The Past Isn't Done With Us,' Says 'Hamilton' Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda

The last time a smash Broadway musical at the height of its influence and popularity was made available in this way was … never? Even its celebrated composer-lyricist, Miranda, gasps as he contemplates the wider exposure “Hamilton” will receive.

“On Broadway, we’re a restaurant. We only serve 1,300 people at a time,” he said in a Zoom interview from his home in Upper Manhattan’s Washington Heights. “More people will see the show between July 3 and 5 than have seen it anywhere onstage.”

“Hamilton,” honored with 11 Tonys and a Pulitzer Prize for drama, will be available on the worldwide platform for an extended period, or, as Miranda put it on Twitter recently: “You will just have it. For as many times as you like, right next to ‘A Goofy Movie’ and 'TaleSpin’ and 'An Extremely Goofy Movie.’ ”

Even with the fate of live performance in limbo because of the coronavirus, the gambit carries some risks: Will lowering the barriers lessen its cachet? Will its online presence diminish its longevity as a stage phenomenon?

Miranda is betting that a screen experience is an enhancement, not a replacement. “The conventional wisdom is don’t put out a movie while your show is still in theaters,” he said, adding: “The conventional wisdom is wrong.”

The film - overseen by the show’s stage director, Thomas Kail - instead places a kind of visual exclamation point on what a theater audience sees. “We wanted to create a language that honored what it meant to be in the theater and honors what it means to be 'cinema,’ ” Kail said in a phone interview. “It’s not to say: 'This is the definitive presentation of "Hamilton.” ’ This is about what it felt like to be in the theater, on that stage, with that audience.“

But it is a historical document, one derived from the recording of two regular performances in the Rodgers - a Sunday matinee on June 26, 2016, and the Tuesday evening show on the 28th. Miranda and several other original cast members were to leave the production two weeks later. Jeffrey Seller, the show’s lead producer, wanted to preserve that cast on film - an opportunity he and the other producers of an earlier hit, "Rent,” let slip by.

“A show like ours has struggled to make itself accessible, because of the price of the tickets,” Miranda said. Now, he added, “I had the opportunity to put everybody in the same seat." 

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Lin-Manuel Miranda says he sees talk of radical change reflected not only in today’s social and political moment but also in his musical Hamilton, which is based off of a political moment that took place 244 years ago.

“If there’s any thesis about [Hamilton] it’s everything that’s past is present,” Miranda tells NPR’s Weekend Edition. “The contradictions that were present in the founding — the moment that those words ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ were written and the ways in which we fall short of that — are still present.”

“I think, just speaking from our little corner of the world and being here and talking about Hamilton itself, the conversations that we’re having now are: How do we start to make backstage as diverse as our cast on stage?” Miranda says. “How do we meaningfully grapple with making our audiences as diverse as our cast on stage? How do we begin to tackle the system?”

All shows on Broadway are canceled at least through Labor Day as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Miranda says he hopes once the shows do start back up, “we’ll emerge in a more equitable space because I think those more difficult conversations are happening.”

As far as when fans will get to see Hamilton in person, Miranda says he is “optimistic about theater, not in the short term, but in the long term.”

“Ours is the oldest art form of any of the art forms we’re discussing,” he says. “I think we will always gather in the dark to tell stories. And once we feel safe to do that again, we will do that again.”

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Lin, this is technically the first time you’re seeing “Hamilton” with the original company. Was that weird?

Lin-Manuel Miranda: To be honest, I probably watch myself least when I’m watching this movie. When I watch it, I see me at the most tired I have ever been in the history of my life. Planning two “Ham” shows a week, raising a newborn child, and filming on my day off. But luckily that all works for “Hamilton.” Hamilton is a relentless character. The rings under my eyes serve the character beautifully.

Thomas Kail: No makeup. That’s really how tired he was.

Miranda: I remember a lot of the reviews when we opened on Broadway were like, “Miranda, who looked tired at the show I saw…” And I was like, “Guys, ‘In the Heights’ was a long time ago. That’s just what my face looks like now.” But it’s hard to criticize my own performance because it’s what I was doing for a year. This is the best rehearsed movie in the history of movies. Every actor has performed this work hundreds and hundreds of times. So it was really about staying grounded and honoring what we’ve been doing for audiences.

Why did you want to film the show?

Miranda: Theaters struggle with the notion of accessibility. We had our front two rows for 10 bucks via lottery. We did extra shows out in the street for people. So we prioritized two things: One, we said, “It’s a crime if kids can’t see this show.” And then it was, “How do we preserve the lightning in the bottle that is these actors in this moment?”

Kail: We were conscious that if you film anything, it changes the equation. It’s not a negative impact, it just changes the thing. This was as close as we could get to trying to collect as much of the energy that existed in the room at the Richard Rodgers in New York City.

Now that you’ve had time away from performing in the show, what do you take from that experience?

Miranda: From the moment we performed the first show with the Public [Theatre], we had the thing that no one can buy — and everyone works very hard to buy — which is that everyone who left the show told five people about the show. What the movie brings back to me is the joy of performing with those actors, with whom we had developed the material for so many years. When I watch “The Room Where It Happens,” I’m watching Leslie [Odom Jr.], but I’m also remembering at that moment, I’m free styling with Daveed [Diggs] stage left, because that’s the one moment we had together backstage in all of act two. When I’m watching “Helpless,” I’m remembering the time that Anthony Ramos drank a little bottle of Tabasco sauce and then tried to do the rest of the number with his face on fire. Also my memories of Jonathan Groff making faces at me as he’s walking upstage, and I’m emerging for “Right Hand Man.” I watch it with this double vision of my lived experience, and with these Gods-eye views of the whole show.

When “Hamilton” opened, it proved that hip-hop had a place on Broadway. What is the next barrier for theater to overcome?

Miranda: Making our audiences as diverse as the cast of “Hamilton,” and making our backstage crews as diverse as the cast of “Hamilton.” I’ve been heartened by the conversations as we discuss systemic racism in our country and in our world, in our corner, our silo that is American theater.

..

Kail: When I look at some of the things I’ve made on screen over the last few years — like this version of “Grease” that I did, or the “Hamilton” movie, or “Fosse/Verdon” — I’m making movies about theater, or I’m making movies taken from the theater. So as much as I feel like I’m venturing out from my part of the forest, I really just can’t leave. But there’s work to be done. I want to work to make theater feel more inclusive to the storytellers and the people who are coming to absorbing stories. Ooh, there’s the end of the article. Not bad.

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Pop TV has set a date for its animated One Day at a Time special, and it’s bringing a few friends of the show along for the occasion.

The special — the solution to keep production going in some form after the novel coronavirus pandemic shut down live-action filming in mid-March — will air June 16 on Pop following a marathon of the six finished episodes of season four. The former Netflix comedy, produced by Sony Pictures TV, was midway through filming its 13-episode season when production stopped.

The episode will feature Hamilton and In the Heights creator (and ODAAT superfan) Lin-Manuel Miranda in a guest role, while Gloria Estefan and Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Melissa Fumero will reprise roles they played in the third-season premiere.

ViacomCBS-owned Pop TV announced the special in late April. Production on the episode, which is being animated by Smiley Guy Studios, is being done remotely. Animated production has largely continued during the shutdown as producers have adapted to working remotely.

“As we all know, it’s hard to keep One Day at a Time off the air. During this unprecedented time, we wanted to find a way to keep our family — on camera and behind the scenes — together and create more entertaining content for our fans who are self-distancing at home,” co-showrunner Gloria Calderón Kellett said in announcing the special. "This animated special gives us an exciting opportunity to imagine the Alvarez family in a colorful new way while continuing to tell important and relevant stories.”

The special is called “The Politics Episode” and will center on a visit from Penelope’s (Justina Machado) conservative cousin Estrellita (Fumero), Tia Mirtha (Estefan) and Tio Juanito (Miranda). With the presidential election looming, they won’t be able to avoid fighting over politics.

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Given all that’s going on in the world, a good old-fashioned bromance feels oddly reassuring — especially when it’s between two hermanos with heart: Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Broadway megastar behind Hamilton and In the Heights, and José Andrés, the acclaimed chef and leader of World Central Kitchen, which has produced millions of meals over the past several weeks in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

They are fond of retweeting each other’s good works — whether it’s the sweatshirts Miranda curated to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS or Andrés’s hunger-relief efforts throughout New York City — and even vacation together with their families. Miranda and his father, Luis, co-wrote the foreword for Andrés’s book, We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time, about World Central Kitchen’s remarkable response to Hurricane Maria in 2017. And then there is #RecipesForThePeople — hilarious Instagram videos in which Andrés cooks with his daughters while singing along to the Hamilton soundtrack and enjoying a glass of wine. “Boom!” he yells at them. “Let’s go! It’s for today!”

Andrés himself has a life story worthy of a Miranda musical. In 1990, he was on board to work for his best friend (and future celebrity chef) Ferran Adrià at El Bulli, the gastronomic temple that would go on to garner three Michelin stars, on Spain’s Costa Brava. But after an ill-fated meeting with Adrià, Andrés was fired, and he moved to New York instead with just $50 in his pocket. Over the next 30 years, he built a restaurant empire that stretches from Washington, D.C., to Las Vegas to Disney World, then became the person everyone turns to during a crisis and found himself nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

How did this Spanish line cook, a son of two nurses, grow up to be a hero and a statesman? When posed with this question, Andrés, who can be very modest for someone with so much bravado, shrugs. “I only light the fire,” he says. “If anything, I give the push. Then it’s amazing men and women and — boom! — they are doing it. We’re all in this together, and everybody’s doing their part — everybody here, Lin, and so many others. And if we all do our part a little bit more, we’re going to take care of this. We will.”

JA: Coffee! Puerto Rican coffee, I’m having today. 

LMM: Well, I’m very proud of you. Speaking of Puerto Rico, we met actually during Hurricane Maria. We were both kind of signal-boosting from our respective departments in the world on Twitter. I just remember being struck by how you were getting to places that we hadn’t heard from. And you were filming these dispatches from where you were setting up places to serve food. And then I think I DM’d you, and you sent me a message about our friend Erin Schrode, who was on your team, because she knows all the words to In the Heights.

JA: She does.

LMM: It was such a crazy time, and you experienced it firsthand. 

JA: I still remember the day that you and many others landed in San Juan bringing hope, bringing a message of love. You also brought money and things that were needed, like water. I realized that every gesture in these situations matters in ways that we don’t even understand. I connected to you and all your amazing family through Hurricane Maria. And all of a sudden, my family was like, “Wow, you look like you’ve been friends forever.” And you sent us this kind of amazing message — your words, rapping and making up that song of hope, thanking the men and women at World Central Kitchen. And we were able to deliver this to everybody. I can tell you that, for me, this was even more important than any money we were receiving from donors because this gave hope to every single cook and every person delivering the food, all across the island, who was working with us. Long story short, we were able to open 26 kitchens. We delivered almost four million meals. And everything we did was bringing the same hope that you and all your friends brought to the island. Sometimes a moment of empathy becomes a very powerful weapon. 

This is such a wonderful chat.

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