Happy Sondheim Book Release Day Everybody! I asked my friend Alex Horwitz to make this, for lo, he is facile with Photoshop:
The title of this blog post is what fans ask me the most, via twitter, facebook, while I’m playing Angry Birds Rio on the train.
The background: In May of 2009, Lacamoire and I had the privilege of performing this song for the First Family, in the East Room of the White House:
TANGENT ABOUT THE VIDEO: FEEL FREE TO SKIP.
Actually, while we’re looking at this video, lemme dispel an internet meme. I’m NOT throwing up an Illuminati symbol at the end of that clip. Just before the show, I was talking to Hot 97′s Angie Martinez, who was at the event, and she said, “I think this is the first hip-hop ever performed at the White House.” I joked, “I should throw up Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella diamond sign.” She said, “I dare you.” So, no, I’m not a Freemason, or Illuminati, or even affiliated with Roc Nation: I’m just an excited kid who can’t believe he’s rapping at The White House. It’s the Roc!
In any event, I wasn’t lying in the stammering intro to that performance. I fully intend to write a full-length concept album called The Hamilton Mixtape. Ever since I read Ron Chernow’s masterful biography, my brain hasn’t been able to STOP writing it. I do research in my free time. I wrote a song on my honeymoon. The only thing I haven’t had, over these past few amazing, blessed, I-can’t-believe-this-is-my-life years, is the time and space to write it. Other projects I simply could not say no to have popped up. Writing Bring It On with the insanely talented Andy Blank and Amanda Green and Jeff Whitty and Tom Kitt? I can’t believe they even let me in the room, it’s such a fun collaboration. Writing raps for Neil Patrick Harris? Yes thanks! Taking In The Heights to the motherland of Puerto Rico? Yup.
Well, that ends tonight.
I’M GOING TO AN UNDISCLOSED LOCATION TO WORK ON NOTHING BUT HAMILTON FOR THE NEXT THREE WEEKS. When I emerge, I hope to have written enough to give you a release date.
Here’s where I need your help.
Ever since I got this fancy website, I have gotten hooked on the Twitter. I LOVE interacting with you all, I love hearing about the insane ways in which my work and your lives intersect, I am terrified/flattered by your tattoos involving my lyrics. I’m asking you to be my Cyber-Cops for the next three weeks.
I’m not naive enough to think I can go cold turkey. Starting tomorrow (Monday, June 27), I’m sending out two Tweets a day: Good Morning, and Good Night. IF YOU SEE ME POSTING MORE THAN THAT, I am DEPUTIZING you to scold me off. “BACK TO WORK LIN!” “WRITE YOUR ALBUM!” “WE LOVE YOU CORKY, WE WANT YOU TO LIVE!”
If you can help me out with that, I think I can write you some amazing sh*t in return.
Aaron Burr aka Sam Seaborn aka Alvie aka That Guy from College Humor aka Lin-Manuel Miranda
So here’s how Tommy Kail and I spent Tony Sunday! Our task: Write a rhyming finale that incorporates and distills the entire evening, for Neil Patrick Harris to perform over the closing credits. We had two things in our favor: The absolutely fearless Neil, and our amazing assistant Sandra, who fed our work into the prompter all night, and was ready for whatever we threw at her. All in all, an unforgettable night!
And here’s the final performance:
Nina Rosario, on her way home from her first year at Yale:
Waiting on the Metro-North Train, I am going insane, waiting in vain for it to take me home
Finally we leave the station, I am so impatient–to get the fuck out of New Haven
And get some time alone
And as I leave, all I see are the homeless standing by
As the rich kids avert their eyes and get their meaningless degrees
I’m sitting next to businessmen who are cheating on their wives
They’ve been commuting all their lives, filling hotel vacancies
And all I wanna do is go home, where everything’s alright
Where in a way you’re never alone, cuz everyone’s squeezed together tight
EN WASHINGTON HEIGHTS! (Repeat about a billion times)
Nothing’s changed, it’s all the same, everybody knows your name . . .
I’ve been gone for over a year, but everyone I love is still here . . .
No more quiet nights alone, I’m home, I’m finally home . . .
Le lo lai le lo lai, lai lo le lo lai, le lo lai la lai lai lai . . .
Waiting to get off the A train, I am going insane, waiting in pain for it to take me home
I get off and leave the station, finally on vacation–until I make a realization
As I’m standing there alone
And on the street all I see are a row of endless lights screaming out against the night
That no one knows your name anymore
And suddenly it dawns on me, you can’t go home again
And no matter where you’ve been, it’s not the same . . .
I promised you, the Interweb people, that I’d post video of Nina Rosario’s first number from the original Wesleyan Production of In The Heights. April 29, 2000.
That was an impulsive thing to tweet (and an exceedingly arbitrary number), but I’m keeping my word.
I’m nervous though! As comfortable as I am sharing my childhood exploits for your entertainment (I mean, look at how lonely this kid was! The least we can do is give him an audience!), showing you early Heights is like posting a page from my diary. The show back then was like a big bleeding heart, with lots of cursing and very little craft.
Consider this post a heads up to any of you who were IN that Wes production. You were all fantastic, and I’ll never forget us dancing to Juan Luis Guerra in the La Casa rec room as our warm up. And shout out to one of my bestest friends and original Wes choreographer and world-famous groomswoman, Sara Elisa Miller.
See you at 3500. AND I’m on Modern Family, this Wednesday night! You should watch that. Or DVR it, if you have plans.
Would you like to see a video where my friend James and I make a PM Dawn music video, do lots of dubiously impressive stunts, and figure out awesome ways to mess with time and space and the audio dub function? OKAAAYYYYY.
Are we total nerds? Yes. But remember, kids: high school may be rough, but the nerds win in the end.
WHAT IS UP!
Welcome to Friendsday Wednesday. Here’s where I post things by our friends. I’m going to start with some of the greatest fan-related videos on the Interweb.
This was my introduction to Sway and Nitya Chirravur, two cramazing Canadian sisters who were so inspired by Heights, they began creating their own animated spinoffs. A high-speed Alabanza where Abuela Claudia floats away like Mary Poppins? Yes, thanks!
Nitya continued along this theme until she created her masterpiece, a high-speed animated version of the Blackout, complete with dollar signs in Usnavi’s eyes. I mean, this video simply never gets old.
If any one character was truly Nitya’s muse, it was Sonny. She devoted two full music videos to him, one to the tune of Kanye West & Estelle’s American Boy, and an epic disco classic, with what appears to be a clay rendering of Sonny.
And then there’s Condom Guy. Know who Condom Guy is? He’s the guy in Heights who tries to buy condoms in the Bodega, only to have it loudly announced by Usnavi, “You wanna box of Condoms, what kind?” It goes by in an instant, but Nitya and Sway sort of turned him into the Rosenkrantz & Guildenstern of Heights. Condom Guy returns, in an animated version of Benny’s Dispatch that also manages to squeeze in a cartoon Tina Fey eating a hot dog.
I don’t know what the future holds for Sway & Nitya, but I am sure it is bright, and I know that I am forever grateful that for a time, In The Heights was their muse.
May The Fourth Be With You! Happy Friendsday Wednesday!
We got some new Freestyle Love Supreme dates coming up in New York & Philadelphia, and you really should come see what the fuss is all about.
Here’s the playbill article.
And here’s us drunkenly freestyling on my 26th birthday.
And here’s us drunkenly freestyling a message to my sister from Scotland when my first nephew was born.
What does it feel like to completely improvise a hip-hop show? Like this.
Happy weekend y’all!
Just like The Secret and The Field of Dreams, @AndrewKober suggested it, we built it, and you delivered! Here’s some more dream casting for the nearing-Wagnerian-length West Wing: The Musical. Some of these are my suggestions, and some of them are yours!
Cliff Calley: Matt Morrison (since he couldn’t play Piragua Guy. I just want to help his struggling career, he’s so talented!)
Ainsley Hayes: Laura Bell Bundy
Arnold Vinick: George Hearn
Anna Schott: Megan Hilty
Justice Mendoza: Ruben Blades!
Lord John Marbury: Michael Sheen
Ed & Larry: Telly Leung and Adam Chandler-Berat
Amy Gardner: Sutton Foster (her tap-dancing in “The Women Of Qumar” is heartbreaking)
Oliver Babish: Mark Rylance. And Trippi too! He plays all the Attorney Generals!
Debbie Fiderer: Jackie Hoffman
Gov. Ritchie: Victor Garber (“Crime, boy I dunnoooooo . . . “)
Agent Butterfield: Boyd Gaines
Nancy McNally: Audra McDonald
CJ’s Father: Mandy Patinkin (just to get Mandy in there, I guess)
We’ve recast CJ as Susan Blackwell and cast Danny Concannon as Hunter Bell, as a TOS reunion, and to see them make out.
Congresswoman Wyatt: Joanna Gleason. (I know she played Leo’s Lawyer. It’s not cheating if I cast her as someone else! Also, Into The Woods Reunion!)
Kate Harper: Elizabeth Stanley
Mallory Mcgarry: Christina Hendricks
Sheila Brooks: Stephanie J. Block
Zoey’s French Boyfiend: Reeve Carney
Joey Lucas: Laura Benanti. Wesley Taylor is her interpreter! They sing Lyman a heartbreaking love song! (I haven’t figured it out yet.)
Prez Walken: Schuler Hensley!
Bruno Gianelli: Nathan Lane
Mrs. Santos: Kelli O’Hara
YOUNG Mrs. Landingham: Sherie Rene Scott. (Stritch and Scott sharing Mrs. Landingham? That’s on some DeNiro/Brando Corleone Godfather sh*t!)
And Veanne Cox is RECAST as Jordan Kendall!
Also, at some point Patti Lupone enters, sings, “I’M MARION COATSWORTH-HAYES!” and exits to thunderous applause.
I cast Rico and Rainey Rodriguez as my kids. We still haven’t cast Bruno Gianelli or my wife. I’m Santos, remember? I’ve learned from Usnavi, y’all. I come in late in the show, sing a KILLER DNC Aria, and I’m out!