Miranda, A Mermaid, A Memo, Mitigation
Look, there’s a lot of news. Not everyone can know everything. It’s a proven fact, it’s not a crime. Can’t I be forgiven for reading this headline, scanning the article, and going ‘What? Lin-Manuel Miranda is going to play a crab now?’
So, no. He’s signed onto be the lyricist for the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid*, which by the sounds of things is going to have a mix of songs from the animated movie that I LOVE as well as new ones, working with Alan Menken. It’s very similar to his gig on Moana, and not at all similar to his role in Mary Poppins Returns, where he’s basically playing the second coming of Bert and which doesn’t come out until December 2018.
This is a good move for LMM. Not just achievement-wise, because let’s be honest, he’ll kill it. It’s kind of amazing actually that we’re in a time when a great lyricist and songwriter (actually LMM admits he’s not an amazing composer/scorer, get the Hamiltome! So many insights!) has many more job options than just Disney musicals. At one point even 10-15 years ago that would have been the career, not just a facet of it.
It’s also a good move for him because we really need a break from him. Which I think he knows. You know I love Hamilton and LMM. I’m not here for any backlash, and I think he had to lean into all the press that came his way as the show launched into the public consciousness. It had double impact because he was Hamilton and also Hamilton. (As I said to Lainey, you have no idea who wrote the music for Wicked – he’s a celebrity because he’s onstage, not because he’s brilliant musically.)
But it all got a bit much. Everything, including everything I wrote about him, was individually great – I am so down with him talking about feminism with Emma Watson and all of the benefit singles and everything else…but it was enough, and I think he knows it too.
So he’s taking the advice I didn’t offer and spending the next little while behind the scenes, while also, I assume, trying to shrug off the pressure of how to follow up the biggest show Broadway has ever seen. I think this is a wise, wise move. Give us a chance to miss you, and we’ll love you all the more.
*Before you go….
I need to take issue with something in the Deadline article above which says LMM ‘named his son Sebastian after the crab in the musical’. They don’t source the quote, but I did, and here’s what I found, in an interview for Fox News Latino:
Writing a Disney score has long been on Miranda's bucket list. "I wanted to do that since Sebastian started trying to convince Ariel that she should stay under the sea when I was 9 years old," Miranda said, adding that fans should look no further than his son to show his adoration of Disney musicals. "It's no accident that his name is Sebastian."
Okay. “It’s no accident” is not the same thing as “we actively named him after an animated character with an exoskeleton.” It means ‘I had positive associations with the name, including from ‘The Little Mermaid’. This is the same as when someone asks a celebrity a favour and they say ‘sure, tell your nephew with the big dreams to call me. It’s not a direct one-to-one association here, and LMM may well love the name because of the crab…but Sebastian was the 34th most popular name in the US in 2014 when LMM’s son was born. Ariel’s external conscience isn’t the only factor there.
(All of which, YES, is just an excuse for me to talk about the alleged “Simone” baby name craze headlines I’m seeing. Last week I said it would experience a modest popularity bump but not become a big thing, and this week outlets are all “Oooh! Searches are up 230%!” Okay, sure. But searches aren’t committed names. Plus, last year in the US there were 20,335 girls named Emma and 340 named Simone. Let’s say the name quintuples in popularity? Now there are 1700 Simones, nowhere close to Emma (and just under the number of Haydens born in 2015, apparently). Sure, there will be a popularity bump, but it’s not gonna become the next big thing, and don’t believe all the name news you read. )
As you were.
Attached - Lin-Manuel at an event in New York on Monday.
Theo Wargo/ Getty Images