Turntable horror stories and Bluey goals: Lin-Manuel Miranda visits Australia

He is a major force in international musical theatre and Hollywood movies but Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda was happy to pay tribute on the weekend to another cultural phenomenon – Australian children’s series Bluey.

“They’re hashtag goals that family”: Lin-Manuel Miranda at a media conference in Brisbane on Sunday.Credit:AAP Image/Darren England

The high-energy American singer, songwriter, playwright, filmmaker and actor found watching it on with his two young sons a comfort during the worst of COVID-19 in New York and has since provided the voice for a horse called Major Tom in one episode.

“They’re hashtag goals that family,” Miranda said in Brisbane on Sunday. “I think the way a lot of people feel about Hamilton during the pandemic was how we felt about Bluey

“My kids were the same age as Bluey and Bingo so it hit us at the exact right time.”

After declaring his love for the show on social media, Miranda admitted going “hell, yeah” when offered the role.

“The best way I can describe it is it’s the only thing our whole family can agree on,” he said. “Even though it’s about dogs, it feels like they’ve got a camera in our house.”

Having helped mount the Australian production of Hamilton via Zoom during lockdown two years ago, Miranda wanted to see the cast perform live before they finish in Brisbane next month then head to New Zealand.

“I made a promise to see the Australian company while it was still in Australia and they’re leaving soon so I came as soon as I could,” he said.

After the show on Saturday night, Miranda had rooftop drinks with the cast discussing issues affecting the many Hamilton productions around the world, including what they do when the giant turntable that spins the actors around during one scene doesn’t work.

“We were sharing turntable horror stories,” he said.

Miranda was glowing about the standard of the local cast, which is headed by Jason Arrow as American founding father Alexander Hamilton.

Lin-Manuel MirandaCredit: Jono Searle/Getty Images

“They’re so fantastic,” he said. “We were really proud of the incredible company we were able to put together locally and it’s been wonderful to see it continue.”

Hamilton is widely seen as redefining the stage musical – a vibrant hip-hop and R&B take about an unlikely American politician. So why does he think it has resonated so much with Australian audiences?

Miranda said his “dirty secret answer” was that he also knew very little about Hamilton when he picked up a biography by Ron Chernow on the way to a Mexican holiday and was captivated by what he read.

“All I knew about Hamilton when I picked up that book was he was the dude on the ten-dollar bill,” he said. “I knew his son died in a duel … and he died in a duel in near the same spot three years later.

“I think the curiosity that got it off the shelf and into my hands was ‘how [does that happen?] This feels like the most avoidable mistake in history’.”

Miranda said the reaction to the musical was similar whenever it played.

“You go in thinking I’m going to get an American history lesson and you leave thinking ‘what am I doing with my life, what is the legacy I’m leaving behind, how will I be remembered, not by history but by the people who love me?’,” he said.

After creating the musicals In The Heights and Hamilton, Miranda’s hectic work schedule has included writing songs for the soundtracks of such films as Moana, Encanto and the coming The Little Mermaid, acting in movies and TV shows and directing the film Tick, Tick … Boom!.

It is his first visit to Australia – just three days – since he was an unknown member of the hip-hop ensemble Freestyle Love Supreme that performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2006.

“My mum is off hugging koalas at the local zoo,” he said. “She gets to do the really fun stuff.”

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Email Garry Maddox at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @gmaddox.

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