With all the continuing buzz surrounding the wildly successful musical Hamilton, lately, in entertainment and political news, we thought it would be fun to look at the man who is the genius behind the famed musical that has taken Broadway, and the World, by storm. So, we did some reading and here are a few things we learned about Lin-Manuel Miranda.
1. He is a New Yorker.
Sure, this one is a bit easy, but we feel that his native land is important information. Miranda is from a city that spits out entertainer after entertainer after entertainer. Miranda grew up in a Latino neighborhood to a psychologist mother and father who was not only a consultant for the Democratic Party, he worked as an advisor for Mayor Ed Koch. He would spend time in Puerto Rico as well, visiting the town his family was from, Vega Alta.
He received his primary education from Hunter College Elementary School and his secondary at Hunter College High School, both associated with Hunter College and are schools known for their gifted children. From there, Manuel got his college education at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
2. He is a man of many hats.
It also shouldn’t be surprising that performing isn’t the only talent Manuel possesses. He has been awarded honors for composing and writing lyrics, all while only being thirty-six years old. His biggest achievement, so far, is with his brain-child Hamilton, which came to him while reading a biography of the late Founding Father of the United States.
Hamilton debuted on Broadway in 2015, and since then it has not stopped, reportedly sold out as far forward as the box office can see. Not only is the Broadway production sold out, but tickets for the Chicago show is sold out as well.
3. His creation has been nominated for more Tony Awards than any other show.
Hamilton has been nominated for sixteen Tony Awards in 2016, which was the highest nomination number of any show in Tony Award history. It won eleven of them with two specifically going to Miranda for Best Book of a Musical and Best Score of a Musical. That year Hamilton also took home the Tony Award for: Best Musical, Best Lead Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Director of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Lighting and Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, and Best Orchestrations.
4. Miranda and Hamilton have won many other awards besides their Tonys.
In 2016 the cast recording of the original Broadway production of Hamilton won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. That same year the production and Miranda were awarded the Drama League Awards for Distinguished Performance and Outstanding Production of a Musical.
Of course, Hamilton, like many other musicals, got its start off-Broadway. For this run, which was given at The Public Theater, the production won ten Lortel Awards, three Outer Critic Circle Awards, eight Drama Desk Awards, and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best New Musical. It also won an OBIE naming it 2016’s Best New American Play.
Other awards won by Miranda are: a Pulitzer Prize for Hamilton; two other Grammys (Best Musical Theater Albums for In The Heights in 2009 and Best Song Written for Visual Media with “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana in 2016); an Emmy (Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics with “Bigger!” from 67th Tony Awards); two Olivier Awards (2009 and 2016, described in the next fact below); and has been nominated for an Academy Award with “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana.
5. Hamilton was not his first time on Broadway.
As seen above, Hamilton wasn’t a case of beginner’s luck for Lin-Manuel Miranda. In 2008, Miranda debuted his creation In the Heights, which was his first work to appear on Broadway. This piece won four Tony Awards including one to Miranda for Best Score. He was also nominated for Best Lead Actor in a Musical, but he didn’t win. The album featuring the original Broadway cast also won a Grammy Award.
This work moved to London, and while staged there Miranda was presented with the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music. When In the Heights debuted off-Broadway it won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance, the Lucille Lortel Award, and an Outer Critic’s Circle Award for Best Musical. Miranda was given an OBIE for this piece as well for Outstanding Music and Lyrics.
6. He helped found a group called Freestyle Love Supreme.
It was while he was earning his undergraduate degree in Connecticut that Miranda and other founders started this hip-hop comedy ensemble. It is predominantly an improve group as well and the other members Anthony Veneziale, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Chris Jackson, Christopher Sullivan, Bill Sherman, and Arthur Lewis.
The last open-to-the-public performance by this troupe was in September of 2016. For more information about Freestyle Love Supreme, click here.
7. He has appeared in other mediums other than the theater.
Miranda’s talents, as we said earlier, are not confined to one area. Besides taking over Broadway and reinventing the way hip-hop is used theatrically, Miranda has lent his talents to a variety of different projects over the years. He has been the voice of audiobooks, two of them being Junot Diaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was written by Benjamin Alire Saenz.
Appearing on television as well, Miranda can be seen on episodes of Sesame Street, The Electric Company, House, Modern Family, Saturday Night Live, The Sopranos, How I Met Your Mother, Inside Amy Schumer, Difficult People, and Drunk History. We can’t forget his appearances on Television with Freestyle Love Supreme.
Lin Manuel Miranda’s film credits include Clayton’s Friends, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Polar Bears, 200 Cartas, Star Wars, The Force Awakens, Studio Heads, Speech & Debate, and Mary Poppins Returns (scheduled release for December 2018). This man who appears never to sleep has composed music for the film scheduled for release in 2020 titled Vivo.
8. He composes music for other mediums.
That last sentence segued us into our next interesting fact about Miranda. Besides creating award-winning musical scores for Broadway, he has lent his hand in creating tunes for films as well. These works include a great deal we have mentioned already. One of Miranda’s most famous musical contribution in a film was on Disney’s Moana, with his songwriting, together with Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i.
He also composed tunes for a good number of the television shows we mentioned including his two episodes on Sesame Street and lent his talent as lyricist for his creation Freestyle Love Supreme.
9. He has performed in other notable theatrical productions.
While In the Heights is a notable work for Miranda, since he created it, there are many other roles he has taken on before this life-changing piece. He appeared in the Spanish translated versions of West Side Story in a 2009 Broadway revival. He created a couple of tunes for the Chicago production of Working in 2011. Miranda helped compose the 2012 Broadway show Bring It On the Musical and in 2016 he lent his voice to a Broadway performance of Les Misérables as Loud Hailer.
10. He was awarded several prestigious awards.
Miranda has been presented with the National Arts Club Medal of Honor. He is also a receiver of the ASCAP Foundation’s Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award. In the spare time, he finds he sits on the Council for the Dramatists Guild and is an active affiliate with Young Playwrights Inc. Also, Mayor Bill de Blasio selected Miranda as a Council member with the Theater Subdistrict of New York City.
To finish off, enjoy the 70th Annual Tony Awards performance of Hamilton!
Cover photo by Dan MacMedan for the USA TODAY.