Lin-Manuel Miranda has resurrected Movie Musicals

Duana Posted by Duana at July 20, 2018 18:03:27 July 20, 2018 18:03:27

“The sound you are hearing is not a technical problem. It is not a musical cue. It is not a joke. It is the sound of one man's mounting anxiety. I... am that man.”

Okay, you’d have to be under a rock not to know Lin-Manuel Miranda’s voice and cadence even if you’ve never seen a minute of him onstage – so read the above line in his voice. Easy, right? Like, you’d be forgiven for thinking he had written it.

He didn’t. It’s the first line from Tick, Tick… Boom, a musical about a 30-year-old riddled with angst about his musical-theatre dreams and growing older and giving into the man and all those juicy 90s themes. LMM didn’t write it – it was created by Jonathan Larson, who later created RENT - but he's about to direct it.

On one level, this is such a perfect fit it’s almost too cute. LMM has said many times that seeing RENT was what first made him realize musical theatre, which he loved, could be contemporary and relevant to modern audiences, and he actually played Jon, the lead role in TTB, off-Broadway in 2014. Jonathan Larson famously died the morning of RENT’s first off-Broadway preview, and never knew the impact the show would have on audiences at the time, and as the catalyst for a new kind of musical theatre and a renewed interest in Broadway.  That’s not hyperbole – his work led directly to In The Heights, The Book Of Mormon, Dear Evan Hansen, and of course, to Hamilton, so this seems like an almost familial legacy and the ‘right’ thing.

But I’m also really glad this is in LMM’s hands because, well, do you REMEMBER the RENT movie? It was not good. And it was not good because it was a really literal translation of the stage show with no… extra anything. No welcoming us into the world in a way that mattered, 10-odd years after the show. No acknowledgement that the universality of AZT or the corporate vs. artistic elements of the show needed some shade and colour to have the same impact onscreen… so they didn’t.

Here’s the thing – the themes in Tick, Tick… Boom are universal, in terms of wondering if you’re ever going to be who you dreamed of or if you should sell out but on it’s own, the show could seem and sound a little dated – a little “Reality Bites: The Musical” if you’re being cynical. So I’m doubly glad it’s going to be directed by LMM, because he is literally the single person who proved that you can make a story that was only relevant ‘back then’ incredibly potent today. I wouldn’t trust this with just anyone.

Then, of course, there’s the part where this is the second major movie musical Lin has in the works. In The Heights sold in a massive bidding war, and will be directed by Jon M. Chu. And of course there’s Mary Poppins this Christmas. He’s resurrecting movie musicals basically single-handedly, and do you know how powerful it is to be the person who can reconstruct a genre that was supposed to be dead? No? Ask Shonda Rhimes. This is a great move and a legacy choice and I’ve written before about how everything LMM does is something he loves – but it’s also a major major power move, and I cannot imagine the scope of what he’s going to be able to do with it next.

Gary Gershoff/ Getty Images

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