The Unstoppable Lin-Manuel Miranda

On Film / The Daily — Jul 26, 2018

No one’s having a summer quite like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s. Over the past few weeks, news has broken that the two musicals that propelled the prolific composer, playwright, and actor to fame are both headed to the big screen. Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) will direct Quiara Alegría Hudes’s adaptation of the book he wrote for In the Heights, with Miranda’s music and lyrics, and Warner Bros. has set a release date: June 26, 2020. The story centers on a bodega owner (originally played by Miranda) torn between leaving and staying in the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights.

As for Hamilton, a cultural phenomenon ever since its move to Broadway from The Public Theater almost exactly three years ago, studios are reportedly caught up in a bidding war over worldwide theatrical rights to a performance filmed in 2016, when Miranda was still playing the lead, the rapping founding father Alexander Hamilton. According to the Wall Street Journal, those rights could go for as much as $50 million.

Awards and accolades keep raining down on Hamilton. Besides setting the record for the number of Tony Awards nominations (sixteen; it won eleven), the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and the seven Olivier Awards it won in the UK, Hamilton will become the first entity that isn’t a person to be recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors when the ceremony takes place in December. As Sopan Deb reports for the New York Times, the evening could turn awkward if President Trump decides to attend. In 2016, the president criticized the “overrated” production for having “harassed” Vice President Pence.

Miranda, in the meantime, has set up his feature directorial debut, an adaptation of Rent creator Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical Tick, Tick... Boom!, the story of an aspiring composer in New York in 1990. And Miranda will have a book out in October, Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You, a collection of the first and last tweets he sends out each day to nearly two-and-a-half million followers.

Speaking of Twitter and books, Miranda has repeatedly called out to his followers to aid Puerto Rico any way they can ever since Hurricane Maria slammed the U.S. territory last year. Now he’s pitching in to create a multimillion-dollar fund to boost the arts in Puerto Rico and, with his father, Luis Miranda Jr., will cowrite the foreword to chef and activist José Andrés’s forthcoming book on his mission to feed the victims of Maria.

There’s plenty more on Miranda’s plate, but one more project calls out for mentioning here. With Thomas Kail, who directed the productions of both In the Heights and Hamilton, and Steven Levenson, the playwright best known for the musical Dear Evan Hansen, Miranda will produce an as-yet-untitled eight-episode series about the romantic and creative partnership between Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams will take the leading roles. The announcement of the project earlier this week is a timely one, given that there are two new books out about legendary dancer, choreographer, and director Fosse, and a monthlong retrospective of his films set to open this weekend in Los Angeles, followed by another in New York in August. Consider the Fosse/Verdon project a tribute from one artist who’s rejuvenated the American musical to another.

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