Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the megahit musical Hamilton, couldn’t make this year’s festivities at BroadwayCon because he is in London filming the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns film, in which he stars. So, we brought the Con to him—via FaceTime. In a surprise panel hosted by Miranda’s brother-in-law, Luis Crespo, the original Alexander Hamilton caught up with theatre fans at BroadwayCon, answering questions about what he’s up to and what advice he has for aspiring artists.
Do you have any advice for people pursuing theatre in college?
Lin-Manuel Miranda: The answer is this: Study all the things that you don’t want to go into in theatre. Study lighting. Do all the things. For my theatre major, I did makeup, I ran lights, I did sound design, I sewed costumes, and that stuff comes in incredibly handy when you work with other people. Theatre is all about collaboration, so you have to actually understand a bit of the job your collaborators are doing, so that you can speak to them fluently. And then the other thing is take, like, whatever you’re interested in—I promise it will come in handy. Tommy Kail was an American History major; it came in pretty handy when we had this idea. So that’s my advice. Do what you’re passionate about.
What are you up to next?
I’m here in London through June, shooting this movie. It’s a long shoot. It’s going to be a big ole movie! And then I have no idea. I think I have to start writing the next thing. That’s all I got.
Is there any tap dancing in Mary Poppins, and would you like to do a tap-off if there is?
Can my answer be yes and no? I don’t have any tap dancing in this movie, but I have a lot of dancing in this movie. I am dancing for days, which is exciting and terrifying, but it’s really fun. Think of the first Mary Poppins; I’m doing that much dancing.
Being in London and putting on Hamilton in the West End, how can that be different from here because it’s not their history? They’re the enemy.
I guess we will find out!
I wanted to know what your favorite part of Hamilton is—putting it together, what has your favorite part been?
Right now, my favorite part is seeing the ripples across the pond. It’s seeing people in costume, it’s seeing Hamilton quotes at the Women’s March last weekend, it’s people [embracing] immigrants this weekend. It’s the way that people have taken this thing into their hearts and used it to reflect their lives. That’s what part of it is supposed to do, and I keep getting astounded by the ripples that come back and am humbled by them.… Whether that’s the aforementioned things or seeing Pippa [Soo], Jas [Cephas Jones], and Renée [Elise Goldsberry] sing at the Super Bowl. I just started planting seeds with artists for Volume Two of the Mixtape. Some crazy things are gonna happen. [Laughs.] That’s all I can say because nothing is really in stone yet, but we’ve got some really exciting artists lined up, who are just—again—inspired by the thing at making their own things. That’s all you can hope for.
If you could play a different role in Hamilton, would you, and what would it be?
I would play Angelica. I don’t know that I could do it eight times a week.
What parts in Hamilton or In the Heights do you think could be played by the opposite gender?
That’s a great question. The challenge is always keys and making it singable, depending on where your voice is, but I think that we’re going to see anything and everything, and I think that’s great. That’s going to be the fun of watching the show evolve over the course of many years. It’s exciting. We’re at the beginning of Hamilton, you guys. It’s just starting. That’s what’s crazy about the life of a show. I went to see one of the first high school productions of Les Miz. My buddy had a little brother in the show. It was near D.C., and I will never forget one of the parents saying, “My daughter is the third prostitute from the left.” It was amazing to see. That was the first Broadway show I ever saw, and then to see these kids take ownership, it was like the most inspiring thing I’ve ever seen. It takes on a whole other level when it’s your own show, and I think we’re going to see lots of permutations in years to come, so have at it!