For making history
If you ever find yourself in a position to sit down with Lin-Manuel Miranda, know this: You never really “sit down” with Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is always in motion, on a mission; standing still really isn’t his thing. When the 36-year-old composer and lyricist was dreaming up the songs for Hamilton, the Broadway phenomenon that he wrote every line of and currently stars in eight times a week, he would often walk for hours through the streets of New York City, willing the words to come. Even now, he insists that the calmest he ever feels is during the 2 hours and 45 minutes of the show, when he gets to bound around onstage as Alexander Hamilton, “yelling and rapping at the top of my lungs. It’s the most relaxing part of my day.” The physical exertion returns him, every night, to himself, offering an unlikely respite from the attention that’s swirled around him since Hamilton became a cultural and financial force. The only way that Miranda stays whole, now that everyone wants to engage with him—Hollywood, the White House, hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, the music industry, Broadway obsessives, big-money investors, American history buffs, prize committees, schoolteachers, the political establishment—is to keep moving.
On a windy night in March, he invites me to hop with him into the backseat of a black SUV to go from the northernmost tip of Manhattan, where he lives, across the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey. (“This is Chris’s bridge!” he says proudly as we glide over it, a shout-out to his longtime friend Christopher Jackson, who plays America’s first president in Hamilton.) Miranda rarely finds time to sleep, let alone cross state lines on his night off, but tonight, he tells me with a grin, he is headed to the town of Montclair on a matter of family justice: He needs to settle a score among some fourth graders. One of them has been going around telling his classmates that his uncle is the Hamilton in Hamilton, creator of the cultural juggernaut that recently won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This is true. But 10-year-olds are skeptics; they require physical proof. So Miranda is making a special appearance in the auditorium of the stately Montclair Kimberley Academy