I learned I really love directing musical films with 'Tick, Tick...Boom!': ‘Hamilton’ fame composer Lin-Manuel Miranda

Can I go and write down the parts... I was just so inspired by the show The stage-to-screen adaptation, with Andrew Garfield playing the young Larson, tells the story of an aspiring composer in New York City, worried he made the wrong career choice and also navigating the pressures of love and friendship.Larson died due to an aortic dissection at the age of 35 in 1996 on the day of Rents first off-Broadway preview performance.Larson has been more than an inspirational figure for Miranda for most of his career and he credits Tick, Tick...


PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 05-12-2021 11:12 IST | Created: 05-12-2021 11:12 IST
I learned I really love directing musical films with 'Tick, Tick...Boom!': ‘Hamilton’ fame composer Lin-Manuel Miranda
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There are films, there are musicals and then there are musical films, the happy bridge between two genres Lin-Manuel Miranda found in his directorial debut “Tick, Tick… Boom!” that tells the story of playwright-composer Jonathan Larson Making the film on his hero from teenage years was beyond his wildest dreams and has also inspired him to work on more musical films, Miranda, the multi-hyphenate talent behind Broadway hit “Hamilton”, told PTI. But the actor-director-composer-lyricist also feels the urge to get back to his piano and write.

''I want to make more movies, but I also have to get back to my piano and I'm looking forward to doing lots of both,'' Miranda said in a Zoom interview.

''I loved directing this film. I learned I really love directing musical films. So if I can make more musical films, I would be very happy,'' added the 41-year-old who has won a Pulitzer, a Grammy, an Emmy and a Tony in his career.

Directing the film version of Larson's autobiographical play was a lucky coincidence. Miranda said he saw ''Rent'' (a rock musical by Larson) when he was 17 and caught an off-Broadway production of ''Tick, Tick...Boom!'' at 21, both leaving lasting impressions.

“I remember when I first saw 'Rent’, all I wanted to do was to put it on somewhere. I was like, 'Can I do a production in college? Can I go and write down the parts...' I was just so inspired by the show…” The stage-to-screen adaptation, with Andrew Garfield playing the young Larson, tells the story of an aspiring composer in New York City, worried he made the wrong career choice and also navigating the pressures of love and friendship.

Larson died due to an aortic dissection at the age of 35 in 1996 on the day of ''Rent's'' first off-Broadway preview performance.

Larson has been more than an inspirational figure for Miranda for most of his career and he credits ''Tick, Tick... Boom!'' for giving him clarity at the age of 21. ''I'd just decided to be a theatre major and this guy here is trying to do exactly what I want to do with my life and it looks like it's pretty hard. But it was also very clarifying for me. As difficult as the questions he faced were, it was very clear that it was a calling.

“And I felt a similar calling. I just hope this meets people wherever they live and not necessarily just artists, but people who are like 'what am I meant to be doing with my time’?'' It’s like he has been chasing Larson his whole career, Miranda said.

“And so to get to make my film directing debut by telling his version of his story feels really special to me. And feels like a great privilege and honour.'' “Tick…”, which began streaming on Netflix on November 19, also gave Miranda a chance to pay tribute to another icon -- Stephen Sondheim, the great American composer and lyricist whose works include the lyrics for ''West Side Story'', ''Gypsy'', ''Sweeney Todd'' and ''Into the Woods''.

Sondheim, who died on November 26, was a champion of Larson's work and encouraged Miranda and many other aspiring writer-composers in theatre. In the film, his character has a cameo with Sondheim himself making his presence as a voice on the answering machine.

Like the rest of the world, Miranda is also mourning Sondheim's loss. ''His legacy was encouraging so many young artists, myself included,” he said.

“Tick…”, with Garfield’s stunning central performance, has been called Miranda's best work since ''Hamilton'', the super successful Broadway show on American founding father Alexander Hamilton. It was later turned into a movie with the 2016 production of the show being filmed for Disney+.

Miranda said the success of “Tick…” has also helped him reconnect with old friends.

''I'm hearing from kids I went to high school with. I heard from my high school girlfriend who took me to 'Rent' for my 17th birthday. She texted me over the weekend... I'm hearing from people who do not work in theatre...'' In his view, “Tick…” is not a musical about a guy writing a masterpiece, it is about a guy who spends his 20s writing a musical that remains unproduced to this day.

Miranda said he knew Garfield was perfect to play Larson the moment he spotted the ''Spider-Man'' actor in a theatre production of “Angels in America” in London.

''I knew I needed a theatre pro to play Jonathan Larson because Jonathan Larson lived and breathed theatre and I knew I needed an actor who could play those grounded real moments and then also was going to accompany it on the piano and sing angsty songs about turning 30 to an entire theatre,'' he recalled.

Miranda said Garfield was ''so fearless and so open on that stage'' that he just knew that the actor has the ability ''to be incredibly intense'', and yet you're always on the side and you're always pulling for him.

''I just knew that that was my guy, and I didn't know if he could sing or not. I just felt like he could do anything. It was a wonderful collaboration.'' The composer, who has also written music and songs for animated musicals ''Moana'' and ''Encanto'' and has worked with Rob Marshall on ''Mary Poppins Returns'' (2018) besides producing ''Fosse/Verdon'' and will be working next on Halle Bailey-starrer ''The Little Mermaid'', is happy ''Hamilton'' is now accessible to people beyond New York or theatre.

''We're like chefs, you have to come into our theatre and we serve the meal 1300 seats at a time,'' he said, crediting Thomas Kail for doing a great job in filming ''Hamilton'' in 2016.

''… Hopefully, the success of Hamilton on that platform leads to more folks filming their shows because it only helps grow the audience for theatre,'' Miranda said.

Musicals seem to have made a comeback in Hollywood in a big way and a lot of credit goes to Miranda for making the genre popular with ''Hamilton''.

As someone who grew up in the 80s, a ''rough time for live action musicals in the United States'', Miranda said he genuinely feels grateful to be working in cinema at a time when people are making musicals again.

''This year alone, there have been so many musicals to come out of Hollywood, and I think that it can stay healthy as a genre if we continue to embrace the diversity of it,'' he said giving the examples of 'Annette', 'Dear Evan Hanson', 'Tick, Tick... Boom! and 'West Side Story'.

''As long as we kind of always continue to expand the umbrella of what kind of stories musicals can tell, I think there's no limit to the health of the genre,'' Miranda said.

The hard part about writing musicals, according to the composer-writer, is that they always have to get adapted for everyone to see them.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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