On my first ever trip to New York, I met Lin-Manuel Miranda. Seriously.
I was 21 years old, freshly blonde from a modeling gig, and dating a guy whose mother happened to be a Broadway darling. Hal Prince was putting up a new show with her in it, and we were going to opening night. It was so many dreams coming true at once my head was spinning.
(Side note- thank you, always, Huck, for expanding my worldview past the Midwest and the “supposed tos” of life, and to Annie and Blake, who I am positive paid for most if not all of that trip for me. I owe you so many dinners!)
So, Lin-Manuel Miranda. During the days we were in NYC, we had Broadway shows lined up every night. I don’t really know how, but things seemed to just happen magically. We went to a Cinco de Mayo party backstage at a theatre. We had late night pizza with Donna Murphy and met James Lipton, Hal Prince, even (rude but she’s earned it) Lauren Bacall. We saw Audra Mcdonald perform (thanks David Shine!) We watched Spring Awakening in total awe, which I thought nothing could ever top. It was amazing.
BUT- there was a little Off-Broadway show everyone was talking about. This little musical “In the Heights.” It was created by this pretty talented guy who was also starring in it, which happened to be what Huck planned to do with the musical he was writing. Even though it wasn’t on Broadway, we thought we should go check it out. Huck wanted to meet the guy, maybe talk to him a little about putting your own show up.
Why not? I
still remember the feeling, sitting in that theatre, waiting with excited anticipation in the dark, then….
“LIGHTS up on Washington HEIGHTS up at the break of day…”
I still get chills thinking of it. We were both dancers, and I had never, ever seen choreo like that. Never in my life. We are used to that sing-songy rap now, thanks to Hamilton and more, but this guy brought this to the stage. No one was doing anything like this. The songs were so powerful. The story was amazing. There was hardly a moment to catch your breath.
We waited outside to meet Lin-Manuel. As far as we were concerned, he was just another dude who wrote a show and made good. We wanted to tell him how inspiring it was. Huck told him a bit about his musical. He was exhausted but polite, and we let him off the hook quickly.
We didn’t think to ask for a photo. Why would we?
I remember thinking, “I wonder if he’ll do anything else. I doubt he could top this…” Can you imagine?!
Watching “In the Heights” in the theater recently was such a crazy experience. It took me right back to being barely old enough to drink, to having my eyes opened WIDE to the possibilities of the world, to what we can make and do and who we can be. NYC was a place where no one tried to talk you into smaller, more reasonable dreams or put you to bed before 3am. A magical world where anything could happen at anytime with anyone. Where I knew I had to be someday.
I ended up in LA first and I’ll always be grateful, but the plan is most certainly to end up bicoastal, and we will. In the meantime, I’m so grateful for opportunities to visit (and even perform there!) and for all these amazing musicals coming to the big screen- a little Broadway fairy dust to sustain.
If you haven’t yet- GO SEE “IN THE HEIGHTS.” Incredible for so many reasons! It was perfect that my first time back in a movie theater was to see this film. I was already so excited to just be in that room, then the lights went down, and I got goosebumps as…
“LIGHTS up in Washington HEIGHTS up at the break of day….”