BWW Feature: MOANA's Oscar-Nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda Goes for the EGOT
If you haven't heard the name Lin Manuel-Miranda by now, I'm not quite sure under which rock you've been hiding. Sure, he created one of the biggest and most successful musicals in Broadway history and now has the possibility of claiming the exclusive EGOT (or PEGOT or MacPEGOT?), but first, let's look at the man himself. (I will do my best to keep the HAMILTON puns to a minimum).
A Quick Awards Lesson:
For those that aren't aware, the EGOT is a person who has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. Mr. Miranda, thus far, is only missing the Oscar. In his special circumstance, he has also been awarded the Pulitzer (PEGOT) as well a the MacArthur Genius Grant (MacPEGOT), and an Olivier Award for the London production of his musical IN THE HEIGHTS (MacPEGOOT). Translation? People really like Lin-Manuel Miranda. Had you heard?
With a win at THE ACADEMY AWARDS this weekend, this would complete the quest that would add him to a list that includes only 12 others with such names as Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks and, most recently, Robert Lopez. Only Richard Rodgers and Marvin Hamlisch have complete PEGOT's, but Miranda would be the first MacPEGOT. (Are you tired of these acronyms yet?) Where did this award glory begin? It began with IN THE HEIGHTS where he won the Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album in 2008 followed shortly by his Tony victories for Best Original Score and Best Musical of the year.
He picked up the Emmy in 2014 for writing that instant classic opening number of the the TONY AWARDS that Neil Patrick Harris wowed the crowd with. But the real glory started pouring in with HAMILTON as he picked up the Grammy (again) along with the Pulitzer as well as 11 Tony Awards. These are just the major awards not counting the numerous Drama Desks, Obies, Lucille Lortels, etc. I could go on and on, but let's get back to Mr. Miranda.
Miranda is a native New Yorker born in Washington Heights. He attended Wesleyan University where "Freestyle Love Supreme," his hip-hop comedy troupe was formed. Miranda obviously had skills in freestyling and lyrics and it was here where he began his first drafts of the musical about his home, IN THE HEIGHTS. The show found success off-Broadway and transitioned to Broadway in 2008. After he picked up a few Tonys, he managed to contribute some of the music and lyrics to BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL as well as provide the Spanish translations for the latest revival of WEST SIDE STORY.
Soon after, he was invited to the White House to perform for the Obamas in a Poetry Jam evening. He had been slated to perform something from IN THE HEIGHTS, but decided instead to perform something new he had been working on. A hip hop retelling of Alexander Hamilton, a person he had become fascinated with after reading his biography on vacation. It's incredibly enjoyable watching the room laughing at him when he announces it, and then, how slowly, but surely, he captures the entire crowd, including the First Family.
I don't need to recap the success of HAMILTON; it's a tale as old as time. Hip Hop musical with all the forefathers played by minority actors, takes over Broadway, sold out for years in advance, tickets going for up to $10,000 a seat at some times, you know... that old story. In the spring of 2016, Miranda went back to the White House with the entire cast of HAMILTON to perform for kids and to freestyle with the President (like you do).
Best Original Song Category:
Historically, musicals and Disney movies have done well in this category. Disney last took the award a few years back with Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez's win for FROZEN's "Let It Go." The song "How Far I'll Go" is the anthem that the titular character in MOANA sings as she struggles with living up to her parents' expectations while feeling the need to go beyond them.
In the film, the song is sung by actress Auli'i Cravalho, and is reprised in the closing credits by pop star, Alessia Cara. Miranda himself, will perform at the ceremony this coming Sunday along with Cravalho.
Although not the top contender, the two nominees from LA LA LAND have the possibility of cancelling each other out in the voting, and MOANA could sneak in there and grab the trophy.
But at this point, there is nothing left for Lin to do but... "Wait For It" (I apologize wholeheartedly).
The 89th Academy Awards telecast will air live coast-to-coast on Sunday, February 26, 2017 (8:30 p.m.ET/5:30 p.m.PT) on ABC. Be sure to visit BWW for live coverage of the 2017 Academy Awards, with a theatrical slant.
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