Lin-Manuel Miranda On 16 Tony Nominations, the Real Hamiltons and “Antonio Burr”

Tony Awards   Lin-Manuel Miranda On 16 Tony Nominations, the Real Hamiltons and “Antonio Burr”
 
The award-winning composer also discusses forthcoming productions of Hamilton.
Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lin-Manuel Miranda Joseph Marzullo/WENN

“We had a little watching party this morning,” Hamilton creator and co-star Lin-Manuel Miranda said May 3, the day the nominations were announced for the 70th Annual Tony Awards. “I wake up early anyway 'cause of the baby. My parents came over, my neighbor Quiara [Alegria Hudes], with whom I wrote In the Heights, came over, brewed a big pot of coffee, and we watched it together. It was pretty incredible; you know, it’s unbelievably gratifying to get one of these things. So it’s almost hard to even process 16 of them, but I’m super grateful that the Nominating Committee spread the wealth among our incredible cabinet, aka our design team, who I think are some of the best artists working right now and our incredible group of actors… They really spread the love, and I get the best seat in the house getting to play with them every night, so it’s thrilling to watch them be recognized.”

That love includes a record-setting 16 nominations, including four for Miranda: Best Leading Actor in a Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score and Best Musical. “I am well aware that if this were a movie, this would be the section where we speed through,” the humbled artist says. “This is the section where there’s newspapers spinning and flashbulbs going up, and, I guess, my only goal is to not speed through the montage section.”

Phillipa Soo and Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton
Phillipa Soo and Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton Joan Marcus

It’s been a watershed year for the much-heralded composer, who has already picked up the MacArthur “Genius” Award, the 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. When asked to name the moments that stick out during this whirlwind Hamilton journey, the In the Heights Tony winner pauses and says, "I guess I'll work backwards. I’ll tell you that my son was quite startled by the screen when Chris Jackson’s name got announced [for a Tony nomination]. He’s one of my oldest friends in New York—it was a particular thrill for the magic he’s making as George Washington. And, working backwards from there, I think the highlights are really sort of when our company has come together to do extraordinary things, above and beyond eight shows a week.

“When there is a rally for the Grammys or goofing around at a book signing,” Miranda continues, “or little moments. I freestyle with Daveed [Diggs] in the wings in Act 2 during ‘Room Where It Happens’ and Renee [Elise Goldsberry] and Jasmine [Cephas Jones] during ‘Right Hand Man,’ and it’s those little moments, I think, that make the connections onstage so magical.”

And, has Hamilton's Founding Father met any relatives of one of our country's Founding Fathers?

“Oh, dude,” Miranda says with a laugh, “I have met so many Hamiltons and Schuyler Sisters, you would not believe it. We had a group of 70 come early in the run, and now I’m starting to get the distant relatives, like, ‘Hey, I’m a Hamilton, does this get me a ticket?’ I will tell you, though, along those lines, one of my next-door neighbors at my last apartment was Antonio Burr. He was a descendent of Aaron Burr, and his friendship has actually really informed the show. Having the perspective of someone whose ancestor has been sort of erased or maligned by history I think made me very conscious of the responsibility I had to these characters. These were real flesh-and-blood people, not people I made up, and so I think I’m grateful for that friendship because it’s sort of kept my eye on the ball.”

As Hamilton continues to be the hottest ticket in town, there are already plans for touring productions and more. Miranda says the entire creative team will be involved with the forthcoming stagings: “Stephanie Klemons, our dance captain, she’s been promoted to dance supervisor, so she will be captain of the ensemble and be involved in casting. And, I will be in the room for all the final casting sessions. So everyone you’re gonna see on that stage is someone that is chosen by our original creative team, and then, you know, I will be basically as involved as my schedule permits, and I’m making a lot of time, particularly for the Chicago run, which will be our first tour. So I’ll be in and out of Chicago in September as we start to set that up, and then I’m looking forward to the next tour, which we’ll set up in San Francisco in the spring.”

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