Lin-Manuel Miranda himself is aware of this; he has confirmed that the Hamilton in his show, at least, is bisexual. If you follow his Tumblr, he’s very supportive of the ship the fandom calls “Lams”, and reblogs shippy fanart with the best of them.
*What have you thought about all the signs at the protest rallies that quote song lyrics from “Hamilton”?*
It’s just really humbling is the best way of putting it. I saw some first-hand when I participated in the women’s march here in London on my day off. I saw a couple of “Love is love is love” signs and that was very amazing.
It’s so funny because “Hamilton” is about not being able to control your legacy, and I believe that’s true. You can only control the thing you make. And then the way that lands on the world and the way that continues from generation to generation is completely out of your control. And so you’re grateful when you find that thing you wrote resonates with other people.
*You probably didn’t imagine the lyric “Immigrants — we get the job done” would resonate in the context it’s being used now.*
No. I had Lafayette and Hamilton on the eve of a battle just finding some common ground. That was my job as a dramatist. I could never have imagined it being picked up as a callback like this.
“I could not have had a happier place to go when I wasn’t in the midst of the tsunami — the wonderful tsunami — that was Hamilton,“ says the actor/playwright/composer/songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda of writing seven original songs for the Disney animated film Moana while simultaneously appearing in the biggest Broadway phenomenon in history.
In 2008, In the Heights, a show about three days in the largely Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights, debuted on Broadway, and quickly put Miranda firmly on the map — it won the best musical Tony and ran for three years. Ahead of his first vacation from it in 2009, Miranda visited the Borders bookstore that used to be in the Time Warner Center and bought Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton biography to bring with him. At an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, he began reading it while laying in a hammock over a pool, and by the end of the second chapter, he says, "I realized this was a very compelling story and this was a hip-hop story” that could and should be told with color-blind casting to illustrate who we were then with artists who reflect who we are now. “I was never picturing the literal founders, even as I was reading the book for the first time,” he adds. “Even then, I’m thinking, 'Who’s the best rapper to play George Washington?’ It was the good idea that kept proving me right over the course of the book in lots of different interesting ways.”
In May 2009, Miranda received an invitation to perform a song at the White House, and decided that, rather than doing something from In the Heights, he would sing the first number he had composed for what he then envisioned solely as an album, to be called The Hamilton Mixtape. The footage went viral and, by 2012, when he was invited to be the focus of an American Songbook evening at Lincoln Center, he had written 10 more Hamilton-related songs to go with it. Soon thereafter, he secured financial backing to turn it into a full-fledged musical Off Broadway at The Public Theater, and he and Kail began readying it for that format. Meanwhile, seven months before rehearsals were to begin at The Public, Miranda was offered — and accepted — a chance to realize his lifelong dream of writing music for a Disney animated movie when the studio hired him to write seven songs for Moana, the story of a Polynesian princess, one of which became “How Far I’ll Go,” for which he received best original song Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe noms en route to his Oscar nom.
For most of the last two years, Moana and Hamilton have dominated Miranda’s time away from his wife and son, who was born three weeks before Hamilton first was mounted — not just writing music for Moana and performing seven times a week during Hamilton’s Off Broadway run at The Public (January through May of 2015) and its Broadway run at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (August 2015 through July 2016), but also promoting both and, since his departure from Hamilton, constantly keeping a finger on the pulse of the show as it prepares to spread around the globe. (He still was part of the Broadway company during a “really tough” conversation about cast members’ desire for profit-sharing, which he recalls as “tricky for me,” but which ultimately was resolved amicably.) Only recently has he been able to shift part of his focus to other things, as well, including temporarily moving to London in order to act for Disney opposite Emily Blunt in a sequel to the 1964 movie musical classic Mary Poppins.
But, Miranda insists, Hamilton and Hamilton are not altogether in his rearview mirror. He just read In the Heights playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes’ first draft of a script for a film version of that show, and says a Hamilton film will happen one day, too — but not for years, so that people have ample time to see the stage version first. “I don’t think I’m done with that role, by any stretch,” he says emphatically. “It’s just a meal of a role. In other shows, maybe you have a part where you get to fall in love, maybe you have a part where you get to fight in a gun duel, maybe you get a part where you get to have an affair, maybe you get a part where you lose a loved one and get to explore all that. In Hamilton you do all of that! You do everything you do in life in two hours and 45 minutes. You live your fullest life. So that never gets old.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda on His Oscar-Nominated 'Moana' Song: 'You Start by Thinking, Don’t Write "Let It Go"'
It’s something that really sets Moana apart from other heroines: She finds herself without running away from her home and culture. In some ways it seems like a bolder choice.
I had a similar thing when I was working on [Miranda’s first Broadway musical] In the Heights. I got a lot of notes from producers, who didn’t end up being involved, being like, “You gotta give Nina stakes! What if she got pregnant at school? What if her boyfriend beat her?”
Oh my God!
Believe me, that’s not the worst of the notes I got. Not from our actual producers, but from people who would see the show in process. And what we were trying to accomplish was so much more subtle, which was, this is a young woman who’s been built up to be the star of her neighborhood all her life, and then she goes to a place where everyone’s the star of their neighborhood. And so she sort of comes home with her tail between her legs. And we fought for that. Even though it was more subtle than a more soap-ish plot line, I can’t tell you how many young Latina and Latino men and women have come up to me saying, “I was the first in my family to go to college, and Nina spoke to me.” Because we reached for the more subtle storyline, the more specific storyline than “some dramatic event happened and I couldn’t hack it.”
I can trace the journey of “Moana” in the journey of my son’s life. I found out I got the job on “Moana” the same day I found out I was going to be a father. My wife was going on a business trip and she was leaving first thing in the morning. She turned to me and said, “You’re gonna be a father. I gotta go catch a plane.”
And I went, “What? That’s great.” And fell back asleep. I had to call her back for confirmation. Then I got the call later that afternoon that I got the job. They called me again and said, “We’re all going to New Zealand this weekend; you’re leaving first thing in the morning.” It was pre-“Hamilton.” So I’ve been working on this for two years and seven months. My son [just] turned 2.
It was really kind of an incredible journey. And the “Hamilton” phenomenon happened while I was writing it.
How did you split the time?
I had to really protect my writing time. In one sense it was really great, because, you know, when something is as successful as “Hamilton” everyone wants a piece of you. Everyone wants 10 minutes to talk about their pitch, or press, or what have you. The things that come with the success of a thing.
I got the luxury of having to say no to a ton because I was like, “Tuesdays and Thursdays are full-time ‘Moana’ writing days.” I would meet via Skype with the creative writing team at 5 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday, then I would go to the chiropractor, then I would get into costume for a 7 p.m. show. It was built into my performance schedule.
I also had the luxury of amazing singers in the building — so a lot of my early demos for “Moana” is [the “Hamilton” cast]. Pippa [Phillipa] Soo, who played my wife, singing Moana’s tunes, and Chris Jackson, who played George Washington, singing Maui’s tunes. He’s actually in the movie: He’s the singing voice of Moana’s dad.
What was the key that unlocked the character of Moana for you?
The thing that resonated for me with Moana is she is not someone who hates where she is. Moana loves her family, she loves her island. She knows she’s got responsibilities and she’s ready to embrace them. And yet there is this voice inside her that says you’re not supposed to be here, you’re supposed to be somewhere else.
I can relate to that. I was a kid who was always making stuff. I didn’t know whether I wanted to make action movies or animated cartoons or musicals, but I was always just making stuff. My parents were like, “This is not practical. You’ll be a great lawyer.” And it was never gonna happen. I loved my parents and I loved where I lived, but I also had this voice that was, what’s the distance between me and what I want. That’s what I tried to imbue her with without villainizing the things around her. It’s not “there must be more than this provincial life,” it’s “I love it here and yet; and yet every time I absentmindedly walk I find myself at the water again.”
Given the love for “Hamilton” in the world, given that its journey is not over by a long shot, there is going to be some high school in Kansas that wants to mount a production of “Hamilton” and all of the roles are gonna be played by white kids. Is that missing the point? Or is that the point?
When it comes to kids, I relax all of my rules. When I think from my perspective I got to be a son in “Fiddler,” I got to be Conrad Birdie, I got to play roles that I’ll never get to play as an adult. Once you’re an adult, the world puts you in a box and you’re cast by type and ethnicity. I directed “West Side Story” my senior year in high school. I was one of the only Latino kinds in my school, so my Sharks were white and Asian. At the same time, I was able to flip that into a teaching moment. I brought my dad in to do dialect coaching so it wasn’t [bad] Hollywood accents, it was authentic Puerto Rico accents that these kids were attempting.
I hope there’s enough in “Hamilton” that if you go to a school where there are literally no kids of color — and that is increasingly rare in our country, which is a good thing — your job is to honor the story. For me “In the Heights” has been this. I get joy from both sides of it. I get joy that kids who go to schools that are largely white suddenly are waving Dominican flags around and having to learn Spanish to understand what they’re singing. So they’re getting a dose of cultural education by virtue of doing this show they like. Whether or not they have quote unquote permission to do it. They’re getting it. The medicine is going in. You now have empathy for a group of people that have never been in your school.
I’m grateful for that. Then when a school in the South Bronx does it and it’s all black and Latino kids and the sense of ownership and pride they feel — like this is ours, this is about our families — there’s no quantifying the joy I get from seeing a production like that.
I think keeping kids from art is not something that’s interesting to me. Now, regional productions are a whole different thing. When you’re in a professional production it’s like, cast [it] right. Save yourself the headache of everything that comes with a very important conversation about cultural appropriation.
Is there somebody who has the ‘How to be a Celebrity’ playbook that you’re cribbing from? You’ve navigated the pre-“Hamilton” to post-“Hamilton” transition better than most.
You learn very quickly that the trappings of it is how much you bring to it. If you surround yourself with three security guards and an entourage, people are gonna look at you. As opposed to my friend Josh Groban, who takes the train to work. And he’s Josh Groban. He’s got millions of fans. He wears it lightly. He’s still just a guy. I’m inspired by that. I refuse to sit on a pedestal that people want to put you on. I’ll write a dumb tweet in the morning and someone will be like, “Pulitzer Prize winner. Can’t get his coffee right.”
You can’t stop being the person you were just because more people are looking at you. […]