(click here for an extended video of a benefit concert here .)
By JASON KARZ
Good for Lin-Manuel Miranda for trying to give pop-culture tourists some real reason to see his new movie, “In the Heights.” The genre-bending, musical-theater actor-writer-director-producer-screenwriter-poet who created both “Hamilton” and its hit spinoff “In the Heights” certainly has had a run of incredible luck lately.
But as a non-television-viewing fellow, this movie only captures my attention because it coincides with a long-planned college-exam vacation and there’s no other way to spend 10 days at the beach.
Miranda won the Pulitzer Prize for “Hamilton” in 2016, scoring a Tony for the hip-hop musical in 2009 and an Emmy for the 2013 “Peter and the Starcatcher” adaptation.
Today he premiered his film “In the Heights” on MTV and Kevin Hart landed a leading role in its movie musical adaptation. But Miranda needs more than an A-list cast to be able to fill a theater — real theaters.
Look, there’s no harm in trying to get your book on Broadway. But since his three-time best-play Tony Award-winning Broadway blockbuster, Miranda’s been chasing the box-office equivalent of an Oscar. Which is, oddly, being Hollywood’s biggest movie star.
With both his Miranda-related productions, I can only imagine the endless jokes in rehearsal about the eagerness to pander to a mainstream audience.
There is no precedent for this kind of explosion.
In 2006, “Godspell” director Rob Ashford partnered with Oscar-winning writer Stephen Sondheim on an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” That tuneful American classic premiered on Broadway in 2005 but didn’t gain critical traction until years later, after better-known musicals shifted industry focus to musicals.
Only three years later, that timeless musical debuted on the Great White Way. This past fall, “Mice and Men” officially became the third-longest-running show in Broadway history, with more than 20,000 performances. Meanwhile, “Godspell” closed last season with 4,297 performances.
Broadway’s rule book is adjusted to accommodate such an eccentric playwright as Sondheim. There is a standard publishing schedule and he can manage his craft and all of his projects simultaneously.
But seeing Lin-Manuel Miranda run amok at the intersection of film and theater in the West End London Theater is like seeing a decorated Olympian enter the rings for a record-breaking high jump while his favorite sport remains basketball.
Next on the Miranda slate, the still-unannounced “Mary Poppins Returns,” where he’ll be a director-leading man opposite Emily Blunt, should anchor the movie musical until he can find his Broadway feet.
Until then, he should probably just try to find himself — another Broadway hit.