Com­poser Manuel Mi­randa still on a roll

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

Win­ning a Pulitzer Prize and a clutch of Tony Awards in a sin­gle year would be enough for al­most any­one. Not LinManuel Mi­randa. Not in 2016.

The Hamil­ton writer-com­poser picked up those hon­ors and also earned a Golden Globe nom­i­na­tion, won the Ed­ward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama In­spired by Amer­i­can His­tory, wrote mu­sic for a top movie, and in­spired a best­selling book, a best-sell­ing al­bum of Hamil­ton covers and a pop­u­lar PBS doc­u­men­tary.

A new honor came on Wed­nes­day when Mi­randa bested Bey­once, Adele and Dwayne “The Rock” John­son, among oth­ers, to be named The As­so­ci­ated Press En­ter­tainer of the Year, voted by mem­bers of the news co­op­er­a­tive and AP en­ter­tain­ment re­porters.

“There’s been more than a lit­tle good luck in the year it­self and the way it’s un­folded,” Mi­randa says af­ter be­ing told of the honor. “I con­tinue to try to work on the things I’ve al­ways wanted to work on and try to say yes to the op­por­tu­ni­ties that I’d kick my­self for­ever if I didn’t jump at them.”

When he hosted Satur­day Night Live in Oc­to­ber, he some­what tongue-in-cheek ac­knowl­edged the rar­ity of hav­ing a theater com­poser as host, say­ing: “Most of you watch­ing at home have no idea who I am.” They surely must by now. Mi­randa was vir­tu­ally ev­ery­where in pop­u­lar cul­ture this year — stage, film, TV, mu­sic and pol­i­tics, while en­gag­ing on so­cial me­dia as he went. Like a lyric he wrote for Alexan­der Hamil­ton, it seemed at times that the non­stop Mi­randa was work­ing as if he was “run­ning out of time”.

Julio D. Diaz, of the Pen­sacola News Journal, says Mi­randa “made the whole world sing, dance and think. Cou­pled with us­ing his pres­tige to be­come in­volved in im­por­tant so­ciopo­lit­i­cal is­sues, there was no greater or more im­por­tant pres­ence in en­ter­tain­ment in 2016.”

Among the things Mi­randa did this year are ask­ing Congress to help dig Puerto Rico out of its debt cri­sis, get­ting an hon­orary doc­tor­ate from the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, per­form­ing at a fundraiser for Hamil­ton Hil­lary Clin­ton on Broad­way, lob­by­ing to stop gun vi­o­lence in the United States and team­ing up with Jen­nifer Lopez on the ben­e­fit sin­gle Love Make the World Go Round.

He and his mu­si­cal Hamil­ton won 11 Tony Awards in June, but per­haps his deep­est con­tri­bu­tion that night was tear­fully hon­or­ing those killed hours be­fore at an Or­lando night­club with a beau­ti­ful son­net: “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, can­not be killed or swept aside,” he said. “Now fill the world with mu­sic, love and pride.”

He started the year on­stage in the Broad­way hit Hamil­ton and ended it with a Golden Globe nom­i­na­tion for writ­ing the song How Far I’ll Go from Moana, which was on top of the box of­fice for three weeks this month, earn­ing $165 mil­lion.

“I’ve been jump­ing from thing to thing and what’s been thrilling is to see the projects that hap­pen very quickly kind of ex­plod­ing side-by-side with the projects I’ve been work­ing on for years,” Mi­randa says.

Though theater fans have long cher­ished his flu­ency in both Stephen Sond­heim and Tu­pac, Hamil­ton helped Mi­randa break into the main­stream in 2016. The ground­break­ing, bi­o­graph­i­cal hiphop show tells the true story of an or­phan im­mi­grant from the Caribbean who rises to the high­est ranks of Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, told by a young African-Amer­i­can and Latino cast.

The show’s ef­fects were felt across the na­tion this year, cheered by politi­cians, stars and rap­pers alike and even help­ing shape the de­bate over the na­tion’s cur­rency (Hamil­ton stays on the $10 bill, in part due to Mi­randa’s show.)

But the mu­si­cal also sparked con­tro­versy when the cast de­liv­ered a pointed mes­sage about di­ver­sity to the vice-pres­i­dent-elect, Mike Pence, while he at­tended a per­for­mance in Novem­ber. Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump de­manded an apol­ogy, which did not come.

That ker­fuf­fle was part of a Hamil­ton- heavy fall that in­cluded an al­bum of celebrity covers and songs called The Hamil­ton Mix­tape, as well as a doc­u­men­tary on the show that aired on PBS and at­tracted more than 3.6 mil­lion tele­vi­sion view­ers.

Erin O’Neill of The Ma­ri­etta Times says Mi­randa dom­i­nated en­ter­tain­ment news this year but, more im­por­tantly, “opened a di­a­logue about gov­ern­ment, the found­ing of our coun­try and the fu­ture of pol­i­tics in Amer­ica”.

There’s more Mi­randa to come in 2017, in­clud­ing film­ing Dis­ney’s Mary Pop­pins Re­turns with Emily Blunt (due out Christ­mas 2018) and an am­bi­tious TV and film adap­ta­tion of the fan­tasy tril­ogy The Kingkiller Chron­i­cle.

“I’m back in a plant­ing mode af­ter a har­vest,” Mi­randa says, laugh­ing.

There’s been more than a lit­tle good luck in the year it­self and the way it’s un­folded.”

Lin-Manuel Mi­randa, writer-com­poser


Lin-Manuel Mi­randa, com­poser and ac­tor, re­ceives a Grammy Award in New York in Fe­bru­ary.

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