If you missed Lin-Manuel Miranda when he appeared in the Nasher Sculpture Center's NasherSALON last week, then you missed out on quite a performance.
Miranda, the Tony-winning composer and lyricist who won several Tony Awards for In the Heights (he was also nominated for Best Actor), was the guest in a moderated question-and-answer session. And while he was engaging throughout the interview, the real performance happened at the end of the hour-long event.
Several attendees had requested, on question cards, that Miranda do some freestyle rapping for the audience. He obliged by reading all the questions that went unanswered in the regular session, and attempted to provide answers as one big impromptu rap. Luckily, Rico, a Southern Methodist University student, offered to provide the beats. Rico took his place at the microphone on the podium, and exhibited serious beat-boxing skills as Miranda freestyled through the questions.
Audience members at the Nasher—a crowd that probably isn't familiar with the work of, say, Jay Z—were seen bobbing heads and getting into the rhythm.
Miranda's performance was nothing short of awesome.
That's the power Miranda casts on his audience. And although he isn't in the national tour of Heights that's currently playing the Lexus Broadway Series at AT&T Performing Arts Center, that presence will surely be felt.
After all, the show is autobiographical, inspired by growing up in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City. It was and is a largely Latino community, dominated by Dominicans and Puerto Ricans (Miranda is Puerto Rican), and his experiences and the people he knew led to his nearly decade-long process of writing In the Heights. The show won the Tony for Best Musical in 2008—Miranda was just 28.
TheaterJones caught up with Miranda before his Nasher appearance for a quick video interview, excerpts of which are below. He talks about the show, and about his experience working with his hero, Stephen Sondheim, as he translated some of the lyrics for the bilingual revival of West Side Story. And recently, he played lyricist Franklin in the ENCORES concert staging of Sondheim's musical Merrily We Roll Along.
What did Miranda learn from Sondheim, and vice-versa? Check it out in the interview.
And for fun, because this video has already received more than two million hits on YouTube, here's the video of Miranda's 2011 wedding, and the surprise he planned for his bride. It's a hit tip to the musical Fiddler on the Roof, which Miranda has said was his inpsiration for In the Heights. Enjoy: