In an interview with the New York Times, Sondheim — who has served as Miranda's inspiration and mentor (the two worked closely on the 2009 revival of West Side Story) — said that the reason a hip-hop musical such as Hamilton is proving to be a success is because "Lin-Manuel's use of rap is that he's got one foot in the past. He knows theatre. He respects and understands the value of good rhyming, without which the lines tend to flatten out. Jokes don't land the way they should. Even emotional lines don’t land the way they should."
Brand New Pics From Lin-Manuel Miranda's Much-Anticipated Hip-Hop Musical, Hamilton!
He continued, "Hamilton is a breakthrough, but it doesn't exactly introduce a new era. Nothing introduces an era. What it does is empower people to think differently. There's always got to be an innovator, somebody who experiments first with new forms."
The Times piece, which will appear on the cover of "T": The New York Times Style Magazine's upcoming "Summer Entertainment" issue (in print July 19), also features interviews with The Roots (whose Black Thought and Questlove have been enlisted as executive producers of the show's original cast recording due in September) and Ron Chernow (who penned the biography "Alexander Hamilton," which inspired the musical).
The day Chernow saw Miranda's In the Heights, he was invited backstage and was asked to be historical consultant on Hamilton. He has been involved with the show for six years.
When Miranda presented material to Chernow for the first time, "He sat on my living room couch, began to snap his fingers, then sang the opening song of the show," Chernow explained. "When he finished, he asked me what I thought. And I said, 'I think that's the most astonishing thing I've ever heard in my life.' He had accurately condensed the first 40 pages of my book into a four-minute song." Read the full New York Times piece here.
The new musical just announced front-row seats, priced $10, available for all performances by a lottery drawing.
In an interview with Playbill magazine earlier this year, Miranda and his co-star Leslie Odom, Jr. revealed how Jonathan Larson's Rent shaped their histories and their work on Hamilton. Read the feature story here.