Lawrence Toppman

5 years ago, Lin-Manuel Miranda was pondering ‘Hamilton’ – but not the way you think

Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lin-Manuel Miranda Corey Hayes

Five years ago, Lin-Manuel Miranda was an ordinary human being. Well, an ordinary human being who had won a Tony award for “In the Heights,” the story of his old neighborhood in the northwestern corner of Manhattan. (That’d be Washington Heights.)

But “ordinary” in the sense that you could still buy tickets to see his shows on the day of the performance, or in the sense that he’d happily do interviews with midsized newspapers to promote the national tour of “Heights.” I talked to him for almost an hour in 2011, before that charming musical reached the Belk.

When I asked what he was working on next, he mentioned “The Hamilton Mixtape.” He envisioned it as a hip-hop album, but it morphed into the most famous musical – and the hottest Broadway ticket – of the last decade. It earned a record 16 Tony nominations. With the Tonys coming up Sunday night, maybe it’s time to look back at his first thoughts:

“All I knew was the $10 bill and the (fatal) duel with Aaron Burr,” he said then. “I read Ron Chernow’s biography, and I could see where all the songs would go.

“His childhood out-Dickenses Dickens. He became George Washington’s right-hand man, because he could write French and English. So he literally wrote his way out of his circumstances, which is the same story as a hip-hop artist’s. The building blocks he laid down helped define the country, but he got shot by the vice-president in New Jersey – and it doesn’t get any more gangster than that!”

[RELATED: Charlotte’s got quite the Tony-winning season coming up in 2016-17. And if you’re hoping to see ‘Hamilton’ here, you’re in luck.]

Toppman: 704-358-5232

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