Long before he became a household name or won the Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur Fellowship, Lin-Manuel Miranda was an anonymous sophomore at Wesleyan University in awe of Rent and longing to impress.
He made his bid for attention by writing a musical about a fraught triangle between a local boy in love with his best friend’s little sister, not knowing that his best friend was in love with him. The music was a blend of classic Broadway ballads with the salsa and hip-hop Miranda grew up on in the Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights.
The student audience went wild for the show. Miranda did not — and spent a decade rewriting, revising and working out new ideas at workshops.
Only in 2008 was he ready to take In the Heights to Broadway, which was more than ready for Miranda’s unique talents and approaches. Still, it took another 13 years before the show made it to Hollywood — and by that time, only three words from the original score remained and the story had been boiled down to a character who barely featured in Miranda’s earliest college drafts: a magnetic bodega owner who embodies the hopes and dreams of so many for a better life.
Now that the film and book In the Heights have been released, The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center is honored to welcome Lin-Manuel Miranda to talk about the creative life of the Heights, the evolution of his play and chasing the universal question: Where do I belong?
Miranda will be joined in conversation with author Jeremy McCarter and Tommy Kail, original director of In the Heights.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is an award-winning composer, lyricist, and performer, as well as the recipient of a 2015 MacArthur Foundation Award. His most recent musical, Hamilton—book, music, and lyrics by Miranda; he also originated the title role—opened on Broadway in 2015. Hamilton was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and earned a record-breaking sixteen Tony Award nominations, winning eleven Tonys, including two for Miranda personally for Best Book and Best Score of a Musical. Miranda’s first Broadway musical, In the Heights, received four 2008 Tony Awards (including Best Orchestrations, Best Choreography, and Best Musical). Miranda contributed music, lyrics, and vocals to several songs in Disney’s feature film Moana, earning him an Oscar nomination and a Grammy Award for the original song “How Far I’ll Go.” He lives in New York City with his wife, sons, and dog.
Jeremy McCarter is the author of Young Radicals and co-author, with Lin-Manuel Miranda, of the #1 New York Times bestseller Hamilton: The Revolution. He is the founder and executive producer of Make-Believe Association, a Chicago-based production company. He spent five years on the artistic staff of the Public Theater and has served on the jury of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. He has written about culture and politics for New York magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. He lives in Chicago with his family.
Thomas (Tommy) Kail is an American theatre director, known for directing the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Miranda’s musicals In the Heights and Hamilton. Kail won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical (for Hamilton) and was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor in 2018.
The livestream for this event will be password-protected and posted only on Experience Emanu-El.
Includes a copy of the book
Sponsored by City National Bank
If this event cannot take place in person (due to Covid-19 restrictions) it will be rescheduled for a date in 2022.