Lin-Manuel Miranda didn’t throw away his shot, and his old English teacher couldn’t be more proud.
Ahead of Hamilton‘s opening in Puerto Rico, the 38-year-old mind behind the hit musical chatted with CBS This Morning on Friday and had an emotional reaction to a sweet message from his eighth grade English teacher, Dr. Rembert Herbert.
“Lin, this is your old English teacher, Dr. Herbert, here,” Herbert said in a video message to his old student. “I’m sure you didn’t imagine when you were in the eighth grade and set some of The Chosen to music that it would lead you where you are today but congratulations. I’ve heard a lot about what you’re doing in Puerto Rico, and I wish you well in those endeavors and continued great success down there.”
Before Herbert got many words out, Miranda was already in tears over seeing his beloved teacher on the screen.
“Dr. Herbert’s the reason I’m sitting here talking to you,” a tearful Miranda said. “I wrote a musical instead of doing my homework for his class in eighth grade. He said, ‘You could be good at this, and you should stop hibernating in my class, and you should be doing this.’ Because we had a student-written theater club at my high school and Rembert’s the one who nudged me in that direction and he sort of changed my life forever with that.”
Following the interview, Miranda tweeted about the kind words from his old teacher.
“Yeah, @CBSThisMorning really brought the waterworks with the message from Dr. Herbert 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭,” he wrote.
Herbert wasn’t the only person to record a message for Miranda! Ingrid Michaelson wished him luck by quoting his show — “History has its eyes on you,” she said — while Hamilton‘s original George Washington, Christopher Jackson, jokingly chastised Miranda for making it hard on himself, “Lots of words. Remember, you wrote them all,” he quipped.
Miranda was once again brought to tears by a message from chef Jose Andres.
“Lin-Manuel, congratulations. Only you will bring Hamilton to beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico. So thank you for bringing so much hope to the beautiful American people of Puerto Rico,” Andres said.
“After all, you know it. Immigrants get the sh*t done,” Andres said, referencing a lyric from the Hamilton song, “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down).
Miranda was initially inspired to bring his show to Puerto Rico after doing so with his first musical, In The Heights. His motives piled up after Hurricane Maria devastated the island and Miranda wanted to find a way to help.
“The conversation immediately became, ‘How do we help Puerto Rico? How do we leave it a little better than we found it?'” Miranda said. “We chose, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria… it was recovery, first responders, urgency. And with this campaign, we want to help artists and artistic organizations that so often get forgotten in the rebuilding effort.”
Though he created the iconic musical and role, Miranda himself hasn’t stepped in to Alexander Hamilton’s shoes in two years.
“Someone asked me, ‘Is it like riding a bike?'” Miranda said of returning to his role. “And I said, ‘Yeah, but it’s like riding a bike in New York traffic. I know the route. I don’t know if someone’s going to open a cab door on me. But I do know the way home.”
Though he does have some nerves about returning to the character, the biggest success came when his son, 4-year-old Sebastian, recently saw and approved of the show.
“He had seen Act 1 of the show. He had never seen it with me in it. We had a long talk about Act 2 and how everything is pretend. Everything daddy is doing on that stage is pretend. Kissing that lady is pretend. Pretending to get shot is pretend, I’m still alive,” Miranda said. “And it worked because at the end he high-fived Donald Weber who plays Burr and that guy shot daddy on stage …. Everything is gravy after that.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda: Then and now
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