Mickey's Music Box: Lin-Manuel Miranda - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Mickey's Music Box: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Chris Morley rewrites the Manuel...

As the curtain prepares to fall on our look at the music of Disney, let us wind up Mickey's music box at least once more by looking to the future, as kick-started by the signing of Lin-Manuel Miranda to work on writing & performing music for its mid-Noughties films.

Having started writing musicals while still in high school, Miranda would eventually see In The Heights make it to Broadway in 2008. A film adaptation is set for release next year off the back of its success in scooping a Tony Award & a Grammy for Best Musical & Best Musical Theatre Album...

Speaking to the Guardian, Miranda called his first big-league piece of work...
“...a time capsule of a Washington Heights that's not going to exist in 10, 15 years. One of the things we tried to do with the show is not make gentrification just the bad guy. It's way more complex than that. “
In something of a departure, he then penned Hamilton: An American Musical, inspired by a Ron Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States.

Telling the story of Hamilton's life in two acts, it melded hip-hop, pop, soul & what we would probably term more traditional show tunes and brought its composer & original leading man massive critical acclaim. The stage show went on to set a record at 2016's edition of the Tony Awards for most nominations, winning eleven of the sixteen gongs it was up for! A far cry from its creator's initially more modest intentions for it
“I thought, if they can get over our use of the F-word, this will be a good school group show.”
And it was as much about the young & still developing nation Hamilton served as the man himself...
“I think that if we’ve done our job well and we articulate this individual’s life well, the themes inherent in that translate.

It’s about legacy, about how much do we do with the time we’re given? And then there are themes that wrestle with the American character, but only in that Hamilton’s life is a rough-draft version of the arguments we still have as a country.”
Within the first rap, as delivered by old Alex's nemesis Aaron Burr, it's clear that we'll get round to learning the answer to...
How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot
In the Caribbean by Providence, impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?
A taping of one of the stage performances of Hamilton will be made available on Disney Plus next month, July 3rd to be precise.

Manuel's involvement in reviving musicals on behalf of the House of Mouse began with an interview in the winter of 2013, followed by a six-song demo which got him through the door in time to work on Moana, spending three years working on the songs with collaborators Mark Mancina & Opetaia Foa'I & singing We Know The Way in the finished film, also duetting with Jordan Fisher on a version of You're Welcome as heard over the closing credits.

Once Disney added Star Wars to its portfolio, Miranda was asked to come up with a piece similar to the original Cantina Bandperformance in A New Hope for inclusion as part of Maz Kanata's similar establishment as seen in The Force Awakens, also later making a cameo as a Resistance trooper in The Rise Of Skywalker. Whether he'll get the nod to give the Skywalker Saga the old song & dance treatment, though, remains to be seen!

The cameo in the most recent Star Wars installment wasn't Miranda's only experience in front of the camera reviving a classic. In a first leading part after leaving Hamilton, he appeared as Jack in Mary Poppins Returns - his character a former apprentice to Dick Van Dyke's Bert, who for all this time has been teaching his young charge the way of the Force alongside their regular chim-chimney sweeping, before a climactic final duel in song after Jack turns to the dark side....

...Or something like that!

You might also have seen him as Lee Scoresby in the BBC's small screen His Dark Materials series, based on Philip Pullman's original novels. Alongside that, Miranda has co-wroting music with original Disney composer Alan Menken for a live action version of The Little Mermaid which is believed to begin filming in July 2020, after a development process dating back to at least 2016.

Lin is also being lined up to make his debut as a film director with a made for Netflix version of Jonathan Larson's own musical, Tick Tick Boom in which he had played Jon. The semi-autobiographical plot revolving around Larson's doubts over his choice of a career in performing arts. The ticking referred to is a metaphor for the composer's own anxieties as he nears 30 & wonders if he's really achieved much in life - Miranda, at only ten years over that, certainly has.

His Puerto Rican heritage helped make him the ideal candidate to help Stephen Sondheim translate lyrics into Spanish for a 2009 revival of West Side Story. Another musical which is in itself getting a reboot for the big screen in the capable hands of Steven Spielberg. This version planned to be more faithful to Broadway than 1961's first attempt to get it onto film.

Miranda's also used his voice to aid Puerto Rico itself. Meeting the then-President Barack Obama to press for support for a bill allowing the country to ease its government debt which then stood to the tune of $70billion & writing Almost Like Praying as part of an effort to raise funds to combat the devastation of Hurricane Maria, with $22 million eventually raised for the Hispanic Federation...

Lin & his family also donated $1 million towards the University of Puerto Rico's theatre to bring it up to scratch for use as the venue for a three week run of Hamilton during January of 2018, just to embellish a first-rate CV for the man surely now in charge of Disney's long march back to the top of the musical producers' table.

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