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Lin-Manuel Miranda et al Almost Like Praying

Theaterlovers will recognize the sample from the song “Maria,” from West Side Story,” — “Say it soft and it’s almost like praying.” Puerto Ricans will recognize the names of all 78 municipalities on the island of Puerto Rico. On Friday, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Almost Like Praying” paid tribute to the island devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Proceeds go to  Hispanic Federation Unidos Disaster Relief fund.

Vocals performed by Marc Anthony, Ruben Blades, Camila Cabello, Pedro Capo, Dessa, Gloria Estefan, Fat Joe, Luis Fonsi, Juan Luis Guerra, Alex Lacamoire, John Leguizamo, Jennifer Lopez, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rita Moreno, Ednita Nazario, Joell Ortiz, Anthony Ramos, Gina Rodriguez, Gilberto Santa Rosa, PJ Sin Suela, Tommy Torres, Ana Villafañe

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Lin-Manuel Miranda Pleas for Puerto Rico

By Lin-Manuel Miranda

Puerto Rico—my family’s island, America’s island—is in desperate need of supplies and resources.
Read more of this post

Lin-Manuel Miranda Surprise Q & A at BroadwayCon: “Astounded by the ripples”

Lin-Manuel Miranda Bring It On

Lin-Manuel Miranda appeared at BroadwayCon 2017, via FaceTime from London.

Do you have any advice for people pursuing theatre in college?
Lin-Manuel Miranda: The answer is this: Study all the things that you don’t want to go into in theatre. Study lighting. Do all the things. For my theatre major, I did makeup, I ran lights, I did sound design, I sewed costumes, and that stuff comes in incredibly handy when you work with other people. Theatre is all about collaboration, so you have to actually understand a bit of the job your collaborators are doing, so that you can speak to them fluently. And then the other thing is take, like, whatever you’re interested in—I promise it will come in handy. Tommy Kail was an American History major; it came in pretty handy when we had this idea. So that’s my advice. Do what you’re passionate about.

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What are you up to next?
I’m here in London through June, shooting this movie. It’s a long shoot. It’s going to be a big ole movie! And then I have no idea. I think I have to start writing the next thing. That’s all I got.

Is there any tap dancing in Mary Poppins, and would you like to do a tap-off if there is?
Can my answer be yes and no? I don’t have any tap dancing in this movie, but I have a lot of dancing in this movie. I am dancing for days, which is exciting and terrifying, but it’s really fun. Think of the first Mary Poppins; I’m doing that much dancing.

Being in London and putting on Hamilton in the West End, how can that be different from here because it’s not their history? They’re the enemy.
I guess we will find out!
I wanted to know what your favorite part of Hamilton is—putting it together, what has your favorite part been?
Right now, my favorite part is seeing the ripples across the pond. It’s seeing people in costume, it’s seeing Hamilton quotes at the Women’s March last weekend, it’s people [embracing] immigrants this weekend. It’s the way that people have taken this thing into their hearts and used it to reflect their lives. That’s what part of it is supposed to do, and I keep getting astounded by the ripples that come back and am humbled by them.… Whether that’s the aforementioned things or seeing Pippa [Soo], Jas [Cephas Jones], and Renée [Elise Goldsberry] sing at the Super Bowl. I just started planting seeds with artists for Volume Two of the Mixtape. Some crazy things are gonna happen. [Laughs.] That’s all I can say because nothing is really in stone yet, but we’ve got some really exciting artists lined up, who are just—again—inspired by the thing at making their own things. That’s all you can hope for.

If you could play a different role in Hamilton, would you, and what would it be?
I would play Angelica. I don’t know that I could do it eight times a week.

What parts in Hamilton or In the Heights do you think could be played by the opposite gender?
That’s a great question. The challenge is always keys and making it singable, depending on where your voice is, but I think that we’re going to see anything and everything, and I think that’s great. That’s going to be the fun of watching the show evolve over the course of many years. It’s exciting. We’re at the beginning of Hamilton, you guys. It’s just starting. That’s what’s crazy about the life of a show. I went to see one of the first high school productions of Les Miz. My buddy had a little brother in the show. It was near D.C., and I will never forget one of the parents saying, “My daughter is the third prostitute from the left.” It was amazing to see. That was the first Broadway show I ever saw, and then to see these kids take ownership, it was like the most inspiring thing I’ve ever seen. It takes on a whole other level when it’s your own show, and I think we’re going to see lots of permutations in years to come, so have at it!

Lin-Manuel Miranda as host of Saturday Night Live

 

As the host of Saturday Night Live, Lin-Manuel Miranda appeared in some half-dozen sketches (see photo collage below with links to the videos.) None were more satisfying than his  opening monologue. (link to video below.)

“It takes seven years to write a show, so I don’t know when I’m going to be back here.”

“Hamilton is one of the biggest hits ever on Broadway so that means most of you at home have no idea who I am.”

 The monologue segued into a rap that included a confrontation with the photograph of Donald Trump in the SNL hallway.

There were references during the show to The Music Man. Rent. Footloose. Hamilton. Grease 2. and Godspell.  And there were commercials for The Lion King, Aladdin, Hello Dolly, The Book of Mormon,The  Front Page, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Encounter, Hairspray Live coming to NBC, andHamilton’s America, the PBS documentary that will be broadcast October 21st.

 

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged, and to find the link to the video. (The most worthwhile are Wells Fargo Wagon and Diego Calls His Mom.)

 

Grumpy and Light on Stage. #IdentityWeek Pioneering Artists. Week in New York Theater

Theater has been represented for thousands of years by the tragedy and comedy masks — and this week, by Grumpy the cat’s one-night gig in Cats and the opening of Judith Light’s solo turn in a new Neil LaBute play.

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The analogy is inexact, since the Light play is largely dark.

To Larry Kramer, there isn’t enough darkness on stage.  “It’s a terrible place, the world. Where are our tragedy writers? I don’t see them,”  Kramer said in the Pioneering Artists Identity Week panel discussion this week, sharing the stage with Anne Bogart, Ntozake Shange and George C. Wolfe,  (Scroll to the bottom.)

Grumpy, on the other hand, seems content:

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OCTOBER OPENINGS

SEPTEMBER NY THEATER QUIZ

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WEEK IN NY THEATER REVIEWS

 Phillip James Brannon as Nat Turner

Phillip James Brannon as Nat Turner

Nat Turner in Jerusalem

Nat Turner in Jerusalem, a new play by Nathan Alan Davis at New York Theatre Workshop, is yet another retelling of Nat Turner’s 1831 slave insurrection, a story that has been told and retold for nearly two centuries – and will be told again in The Birth of a Nation, a film by Nate Parker opening October 7.…The experience of actually sitting through the 90 minutes of Nat Turner in Jerusalem is not as rewarding as one would hope.

Elliot Hadly, Adi Chugh, Cesare Scarpone

Elliot Hadly, Adi Chugh, Cesare Scarpone

5 Guys Chillin’

here are two ways to take “5 Guys Chillin’,” Peter Darney’s play in the Fringe Encore series that takes place among five half-naked gay characters at a drug-fueled sex party. One is as a seductive entertainment in which fit young performers are dancing and smiling and snuggling and generally seem to be having fun, at least initially…The other is as something of a public service announcement by writer and director Peter Darney, who, like the Larry Kramer of his generation, is warning members of the gay community about self-destructive excess.

Judith Light 3

All The Ways to Say I Love You

Those of us who have followed her splendid career since Judith Light returned to the New York stage in 2010 welcomed the news that she would be appearing in a new solo play written by Neil LaBute. As expected, Light is the best thing about it. What’s less expected is how slight the play is.

“All The Ways To Say I Love You” is a monologue less than an hour long by a high school English teacher named Mrs. Johnson, standing in her drab office telling the audience about her experiences with one of her former students. Having been manipulative and deceitful with both the boy and her husband, Mrs. Johnson is in large measure trying to justify her actions to us, and to herself, in the name of love

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The Trial of an American President

President George W. Bush was convicted of war crimes at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, on the night I attended The Trial of an American President, an earnest, informative and flawed mock trial. The jury voted 5-4, which is not bad, considering the circumstances.

After all, the jurors were selected at random from an audience at Theatre Row on the liberal West Side of Manhattan. And if first-time playwright Dick Tarlow and co-author Bill Smith do attempt to provide the 43rd president with a defense, it’s not an especially vigorous one

WEEK IN NY THEATER NEWS

Soho Rep abruptly shut down its theater at 46 Walker st, where it has operated since 1991, and is looking for a new home.

The 71st annual Tony Awards is set for June 11, 2017.

kevin-kline

Kevin Kline returns to Broadway after a decade, in revival of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter. Opens April 5 at St. James Theater.

Garth Drabinsky,Broadway producer once jailed for fraud, plans comeback with “Sousatzka,” a musical about piano teacher and a prodigy, aiming for October 17. The musical is based on a novel that also was adapted as a movie starring Shirley MacLaine.

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Kate Burton will star in “The Dead, 1904” described as “an immersive adaptation of Joyce’s The Dead.” Irish Rep November 19-January 7

sarahruhl

Sarah Ruhl (Stage Kiss, Clean House) wins the 2016 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award (the Mimi), and $200,000.

Ruhl has a new play at Lincoln Center – “How to Transcend a Happy Marriage,” opening March 20

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The $300,000 Gish Prize awarded to Elizabeth LeCompte, artistic director of The Wooster Group,  for her contribution to the world’s beauty

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“Lin-Manuel Miranda is ready for his next coup”

Lin-Manuel Miranda will be the host of Saturday Night Live on October 8

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$40 online lottery for Falsettos (up to a week before performance)  Show opens October 27

frozen_film_still_billboard

It’s official: Michael Grandage (Tony winner for Red) to direct Frozen on Broadway, which is aiming to open Spring 2018

jewvsmalta

“Jew vs. Malta” at LaMaMa ETC October 28 to November 6, is based on Christopher Marlowe’s “The Jew of Malta”, the political theater of Bertolt Brecht and Kanye West’s album “yeezus.”

Disney to make live-action ‘Lion King,’ Favreau directing 

Broadway comes out for Hillary Clinton in #StrongerTogether fundraiser Oct 17,St.James Theater

stronger-together-pro-hillary

 

 

Who gets to write what? (If you’re Chinese-American, can you write about a black person who’s about to be lynched?

 

A Celebration of Pioneering Artists.

Playwright and director George C. Wolfe, playwright and poet Ntozake Shange, playwright and novelist Larry Kramer before the Identity Week panel.

Playwright and director George C. Wolfe, playwright and poet Ntozake Shange, playwright and novelist Larry Kramer before the Identity Week panel.

identityweekpanelWatch hour-long video of Identity Week panel with Larry Kramer, Ntozake Shange, George C. Wolfe and Ann Bogart

Tweetable excerpts:

Larry Kramer (“The Normal Heart”)
“I think anger is a very healthy emotion. But it’s good to nurture & learn how to express.”

“It’s a terrible place, the world. Where are our tragedy writers? I don’t see them.”

“If you believe enough in your work, keep going.”

Ntozake Shange (“for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf”)
“I realized I liked working with myself better than working with other people.” – Dr. Shange. Cue all the laughter. #identityweek
“I want to open a character up so much that the audience feels like it is walking in their shoes.”
“You find out what’s wrong with your work when you do it in front of people.”
“Theatre work has to have room for sweat, tears and laughter. It’s not meant to be perfect.”

Anne Bogart, artistic director of SITI, Saratoga International Theater Institute
“I went through the back door to make theatre. Quite often the front door isn’t available to all of us.”
“Take the elixir of anger, and use it to create and move forward.”
“I think theatre is the most important art form right now. Because it asks, How are we getting along?”
“You get embarrassed by how people react. And then you correct yourself from those embarrassments.”

“If theatre were a verb it would be ‘to remember.'”

George C. Wolfe (“Shuffle Along,” “Jelly’s Last Jam”)
All these “no’s” make you say “yes” to yourself. Then you start the journey.

“When a film has power, you lean back. When a play has power, you lean forward.”

“When you encounter failure, don’t walk away. Walk through the failure. Figure out what you did wrong.”

“One of the core responsibilities as an artist is empowering an audience to change the world.”

Hamilton Farewell to Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr and Phillipa Soo: A Look Back and Forward

The original cast of “Hamilton” has broken up.

Tonight’s curtain call

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr. and Phillipa Soo played their final performances in “Hamilton” tonight. (Jonathan Groff has already left.)  Here’s a look at their past, present and future.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Usnavi

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Usnavi

In the Heights opened on March 9, 2008, winning for Miranda, then 28 years old, his first Tony Award, for best original score. (He was also nominated for Best Actor)

On his vacation that year:

The following year, in November, 2009, Miranda debuted the first song, which is now the opening song of Hamilton, at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word.

In this video from May, 2013, Miranda explains to me what’s happening with what was then call the Hamilton Mixtape

Here is Miranda standing next to the sign in front of the Public Theater advertising the shows in the Off-Broadway theater’s 2014-2015 season, including Hamilton.

Lin-Manuel Miranda in front of quick summary of Public Theater's 2014-2015 season, including his "Hamilton"

Lin-Manuel Miranda in front of quick summary of Public Theater’s 2014-2015 season, including his “Hamilton”

Hamilton opens Off-Broadway on February 17, 2015. My review

It opens on Broadway on August 6, 2015. My video review:

Miranda wins all sorts of prizes and awards, and gives memorable acceptance speeches, such as at the Grammys:

#Hamiltome Published Today

Hamilton wins Pulitzer Prize in Drama 2016

Hamiltonys – the show wins 11 Tonys, including Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Original Score. Happening on the day of the Orlando massacre, Miranda’s acceptance speech is a sonnet to love.

“I’m leaving because I have other opportunities that are going to need my mental real estate,” Miranda announced in June shortly after the Tony Awards.

Miranda will star opposite Emily Blunt in Disney’s sequel to “Mary Poppins” directed by Rob Marshall. Rehearsals start later this year; shooting starts in early 2017.

 

sebastian2Miranda wrote songs for “Moana,” a Disney animated film, which will be set for a November release. It’s been Miranda’s dream to compose for a Disney cartoon. “I wanted to do that since Sebastian started trying to convince Ariel that she should stay under the sea when I was 9 years old,” he told the AP, referring to The Little Mermaid. “It’s not accident,” he added, that he named his son Sebastian — after a cartoon crab, in other words, albeit a Calypso-singing musical genius of a crustacean.

Also scheduled for November, a Hamilton Mixtape, in which other recording artists will sing songs from the show, songs inspired by the show and songs cut from the show.

A documentary about he making of Hamilton is scheduled for broadcast on PBS October 21

Lin-Manuel Miranda also hints that he might make guest appearances in the title role of his musical in the various productions of the show, which will soon be in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, and Washington, D.C.

Leslie Odom Jr.

LeslieOdomJrbyMandell

Leslie Odom Jr. made his Broadway debut in “Rent” at the age of 17 and, in the 16 years that followed, became a familiar face on television, appearing on some dozen series, most noticeably as Sam Strickland in Smash, but he has not abandoned the stage, performing in the world premiere of Jersey Boys at the La Jolla Playhouse, returning to Broadway in Alan Mencken’s Leap of Faith, and acting in a number of Off-Broadway shows.

Leslie Odom Jr as Aaron Burr on ramp above Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton.

Leslie Odom Jr as Aaron Burr on ramp above Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton.

Then he was cast as Aaron Burr (An Aaron Burr that’s not the villain — Leslie Odom Jr.) That Odom won the Tony Award for best actor in a musical only begins to describe the accolades and attention the performer has received in the role.

OdomalbumcoverNow Odom says he will focus on his career as a singer and recording artist. He signed a four-album deal with S-Curve Records/BMG, the first of which was released recently.  His first gigs after Hamilton are a “concert residency” at The McKittrick Hotel (home of “Sleep No More”) for three consecutive Thursday nights beginning July 14, 2016

” I’m very excited to go out and find something new and to pour energy into my music; to go around the country and around the world with this music and meet people and connect with people, which is what I love to do most.”

Phillipa Soo

Phillipa-Soo

PhilippaSooasNatashaPhillipa Soo had just graduated from The Juilliard School’s acting program in 2012 when she was cast as Natasha in the Ars Nova production of Dave Malloy’s “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” based on Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace. The show and especially she received raves, and it moved a couple of times. (The show is now scheduled to open on Broadway in November, starring Josh Groban.)

Miranda and Hamilton director Tommy Kail saw her as Natasha, and pictured her immediately as Eliza, Hamilton’s wife.

Soo in Burn

Her touching performance as the woman whom Hamilton loved and cheated, and who outlived him by 50 years, earned her a Tony nomination as best actress in a musical.

AmelielogoSoo will assume  the lead role in Amélie, a new musical which aims for a Spring, 2017 Broadway opening after a run in L.A. starting in December. The musical is based on the 2001 French film starring Audrey Tautou, a charmingly bizarre romantic comedy. The stage adaptation is directed by Pam MacKinnon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) with a book by Craig Lucas (An American In Paris) and score by Daniel Messe and Nathan Tysen (Tuck Everlasting), with choreography by Sam Pinkleton, the choreographer of Great Comet (and the current director of Runaways.)

Soo is also writing the foreword to “Eliza: The Story of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton,” a biography for children by Margaret McNamara about the woman who founded New York City’s first private orphanage, raised funds to build the Washington Monument and fought to promote her husband’s legacy. “I have lived and breathed Eliza’s story for the past two years,” Soo said.

These theater artists will move on, and so will Hamilton.

Click on the pictures below to learn more, or to purchase.

The official book about the making of Hamilton; includes the complete libretto.

The Grammy-winning album

The history book on which the musical is based

Hamilton: Vocal selections

2017 Hamilton wall calendar

Everything Hamilton

Hamiltonquizcollage

My most popular Hamilton post has been Quiz: Which character in Hamilton are you?

Hamiltonquiz2collage

Also popular, my more general Hamilton Quiz — 20 questions that span the history of the show.

My most popular Hamilton video:

Another video involving Lin-Manuel Miranda:

BroadwayKaroake

Watch: Broadway #CarpoolKaroake with Lin-Manuel, Audra, Jesse, and Jane Krakowski

There was a time when Hamilton was just one of many Off-Broadway shows slated for the Public Theater.

publictheaterseasonlinmanuel

Lin-Manuel Miranda in front of quick summary of Public Theater’s 2014-2015 season, including his “Hamilton”

 

Then the reviews came in.

My video review

My two reviews.

Hamilton Review: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hip-Hopped History Musical (Off-Broadway)

Phillipa Soo, renee Elise-oldsberry and Jasmine-Cephas-Jones

Phillipa Soo, renee Elise-oldsberry and Jasmine-Cephas-Jones

Hamilton on Broadway: Review, Photos, Video

 

I also wrote a popular piece for HowlRound

Hamilton: Five Ways Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hip-Hopped History Musical Breaks New Ground

My first published piece about Hamilton was in Howlround, in October, 2014 — an interview with Leslie Odom Jr., which I updated just as Hamilton was opening Off-Broadway:

Leslie Odom Jr as Aaron Burr on ramp above Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton.

Leslie Odom Jr as Aaron Burr on ramp above Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton.

An Aaron Burr Who’s Not The Villain: Leslie Odom Jr in Hamilton

But I suppose I could go back to a video of Lin-Manuel Miranda I shot in May, 2013:

Lin-Manuel Miranda on His Past Inspirations, and The Future of “The Hamilton MixTape”

Here is my first Hamilton photo essay, in January 2015, a month before it opened at the Public Theater.

 

Hamilton Gifts. Click on the pictures below to learn more, or to purchase.

The official book about the making of Hamilton; includes the complete libretto.

The Grammy-winning album

The history book on which the musical is based

Hamilton: Vocal selections

2017 Hamilton wall calendar

Some of the other Hamilton posts over the past 18 months:

U.S. Presidents on Broadway, from Hamilton to Abe Lincoln in Illinois

#Gram4Ham: Hamilton on the Grammys

#Hamiltome Published Today

Hamilton wins Pulitzer Prize in Drama 2016

Hamilton Cast Rebels

2016 Tony Award Nominations: Hamilton Rules

From a piece I wrote for DC Theatre Scene:
Few could have been surprised that the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Drama (and $10,000) was awarded to Lin-Manuel Miranda for the musical Hamilton, who after all has already won an astonishing pile-up of awards and prize money — the George Washington Book Prize ($50,000), the Kennedy Award for Drama Inspired by American History ($100,000), the MacArthur “Genius” Grant ($625,000), the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album (which so far has grossed some six million dollars.)

While we’re talking money – which isn’t completely inappropriate, given that the musical is about the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury — Hamilton, which opened in August…provides Miranda, 36, with upwards of $100,000 in royalties per week for writing the book, music, lyrics and arrangements; this doesn’t include his undisclosed weekly salary for starring in the show…

It has almost reached the point where the awards to Miranda for Hamilton do more to enhance the prestige of the award-giver than the recipient.

To be continued….