In rehearsal for Dreamgirls. Photo Courtesy DM Archives.
Broadway musicals have been on my mind for more than half a century. I discovered them in grade school, not in a theater but electronically. On the radio, every weeknight an otherwise boring local station would play a cast album in its entirety; on television, periodically Ed Sullivan's Sunday night variety show would feature an excerpt from the latest hit—numbers from Bye Bye Birdie, West Side Story, Camelot, Flower Drum Song.
But theater lives in the here and now, and I was in middle school when I attended my first Broadway musical, Gypsy—based, of all things, on the early life of the famed burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee. I didn't know who Jerome Robbins was, but I recognized genius when I saw it—kids morphing into adults as a dance number progresses, hilarious stripping routines, a pas de deux giving concrete shape to the romantic yearnings of an ugly duckling. It proved the birth of a lifelong habit, indulged for the last 18 years in the pages of this magazine. But all long runs eventually end, and it's time to say good-bye to the "On Broadway" column. It's not the last of our Broadway coverage—there's too much great work being created and performed, and you can count on hearing from me in print and online.
Lin-Manuel Miranda showed up in the first teaser trailer for Mary Poppins Returns. Photo courtesy Disney, via IMDB
It's been a while since we checked in on Lin-Manuel Miranda, who at this point really needs no introduction. Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the Broadway debut of In the Heights, Miranda's first big hit that laid the groundwork for him to revolutionize the Great White Way with Hamilton.
But aside from that, he's had a pretty insane couple of weeks, even by Miranda standards. Here's what you might have missed.
"How to account for his rise to the top? Maaaaan, the man is non-stop." Lin-Manuel Miranda that is. Even though the Tony Awards are coming up on June 12 (and Hamilton has a record-breaking 16 nominations), Miranda, the show's creator, isn't resting on his laurels. As he continues starring in the Broadway megahit Hamiltonthrough July 9, he's already getting his feet wet with another major project: a film adaptation of In the Heights.
Miranda (center) from his In the Heights days. Photo by Joan Marcus.
If you're not familiar with his earlier hit, In the Heights, which Miranda began writing during undergrad, had a nearly three-year Broadway run from 2008 to 2011. The show depicts life in NYC's Washington Heights neighborhood, and in Hamilton fashion, it employed various genres like rap and salsa. It took home five Tonys including Best Musical, Best Original Score (written by Miranda) and Best Choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler). Now that we're all up to speed, can we agree that we're sold on a movie version produced by Miranda? (I believe that's called a #HamilWin.)
According to The Hollywood Reporter, discussions about an In the Heights movie began several years ago when Kenny Ortega (of High School Musical fame) was championing it. The plans were nixed for budgetary reasons. Now, Miranda, who's working with Harvey Weinstein on the adaptation, thinks he can pull it off with just $15 million. While we have our fingers crossed that Miranda will reprise the lead role of bodega owner Usnavi, casting decisions have yet to be announced.
Even if he doesn't end up appearing as Usnavi, Miranda will still be on the big screen in the near future. Catch him in Disney's Mary Poppins Returns, due in theaters Christmas 2018. What did we tell you? He's nonstop!