Leave it to Lin-Manuel Miranda to liven up the 9-9 by letting loose.
The news that Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andy Blankenbuehler and Thomas Kail are working together on a new project is almost too wonderful to handle. But the creative team behind Hamilton isn't reuniting for just any old thing: They're teaming up for a dance-centric television series about Broadway legends Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, and we cannot contain our excitement.
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.
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.
As those of you on Twitter are no doubt aware, this weekend marked the second #Hamilversary, AKA the two-year anniversary of the opening of Hamilton on Broadway. And unless you've been living under a rock, you know that our resident Broadway columnist Sylviane Gold was downright prophetic when she wrote in our July 2015 issue, "the runaway off-Broadway hit of last season [is] now likely to repeat history on Broadway—and maybe make it."
Hamilton set a new record for Tony nominations (16), garnered Lin-Manuel Miranda a Pulitzer Prize and gained an unprecedented level of pop-culture recognition. Today, the show continues to dominate on Broadway and has opened a dual production in Chicago, while its first national tour just wrapped up its San Francisco performances. Meanwhile, a West End opening is expected this fall and a film adaptation is in the works. And along the way, Andy Blankenbuehler's choreography has set new standards for dance on Broadway.
Oh, and we're all just a little bit obsessed with it.
So to celebrate, here's a look back on a (very small) selection of our favorite Hamilton moments.
"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 Hamilton through 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!
Patti LuPone in Shows for Days. Photo by Joan Marcus via BroadwayWorld.
Early this week a man climbed onstage before the Broadway play Hand to God and attempted to charge his phone in the fake set outlet, and the Internet exploded with disbelief and outrage. On Wednesday, Patti LuPone endured what she called a “cacophony of noise” when four cell phones went off during the matinee of Shows for Days, and was inspired to take a texting audience member’s device away during her evening performance. A few months back, Madonna (who should know better as a fellow performer and former modern dancer!) was pointedly not invited backstage at Hamilton because she texted through Act 2.
Though rudeness during dance performances hasn’t made any headlines lately, I’ve certainly experienced my fair share of ringing phones and distracting bright screens at various venues throughout New York City. The way that everyone openly disregards requests to turn off their cell phones (not silence! not put on airplane mode! turn off!) is near humorous. Almost as disturbing as these blatant offenses is the rush to put face to screen at every intermission or pause. Instead of processing, discussing and arguing about what we’ve seen, we Instagram our programs, tweet about our days and check our emails.
As a millennial, I’m nostalgic for a time that I never experienced, and that may have never really existed. Was there a time when the reverence for live performance went beyond merely showing respect for the performers by staying engaged and quiet, but involved total absorption in the experience from start to finish and a short hiatus from acknowledging the outside world? I wish that I could experience performances this way, but I spend my intermission looking up information about the piece I’m seeing, or planning what I’m going to do afterwards. Even though I consider myself an engaged audience member, I know I would have a different experience if I powered off from the time I stepped into the theater until I left. Maybe next time.