PLAYBILL BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bringing In the Heights Home to Washington Heights

By Michael Gioia
06 Feb 2013

Miranda and cast in In the Heights.
Photo by Joan Marcus

On a different note, can you tell me where you are in the process with your song cycle The Hamilton Mixtape?
LMM: So, here's the thing…! [Laughs.] I become a beautiful butterfly for the next two weeks — I get to go up on stage and do the Heights concert, then the next week we have a Freestyle Love Supreme show at Gramercy Theatre — I've been doing that [musical improv] show with my friends even longer than I've been doing Heights, and those are incredibly fun, and I couldn't tell you what's going to happen in it because the audience decides what happens in it.

And then you won't see me on stage again for the rest of the year because I'll be working on The Hamilton Mixtape. My goal is to have a draft of the musical this summer — the [concept] album component of it being dependent on how much I accomplish that goal, so I just go back in the bunker and start writing.

What's the goal for this project?
LMM: World domination. [Laughs.] … No, the goal for the project is really to get these songs that have been in my head since 2009, when I started writing this, in a form I'm happy with. It feels like it's been a long time since that White House video first came out [in 2009], for example, but when you consider that Heights took six years [to develop], this is actually going really fast. So patience and faith — that's all I can say. [Laughs.] I am working on it; it's my number one priority in 2013.


You also worked on Stephen Schwartz's Working, which was recently seen Off-Broadway. Tell me about that.
LMM: That was great. I was really thrilled with the production that we got in New York Off-Broadway this past year. It was a lovely production… A lot of those cast members also debuted this version of the show at the Asolo [Rep] in Florida [in May 2008]. I wrote those songs, actually, shortly after Heights opened. I was working with Stephen, and it kind of came along at the perfect time because we just opened Heights. I had spent my 20s writing In the Heights, and I was mourning the fact that I was done writing it. But I had these songs to write for Stephen Schwartz, which was a real honor and a real thrill and a real collaborative experience. I wrote those basically backstage at the Rodgers [Theatre] as we geared up for making this new version [of Working]. [Director] Gordon Greenberg was instrumental in making that happen, and Stephen Schwartz is an incredible collaborator and as nice a guy as he is talented, so it was joy.

Do you have anything else up your sleeve? Is there anything else that you want to musicalize?
LMM: I have a couple of things, but what I'm focusing on in 2013 is trying not to stretch myself too thin. I'm saying yes only to things that will not take me away from Hamilton for too long and just writing.

( staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)