If you’re a fan of Broadway's In the Heights and Lin Manuel Miranda (and who isn’t these days, except maybe Rush Limbaugh?), then you do not want to miss tonight’s smart and touching PBS special In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams. The documentary (which airs tonight at 8 p.m. as part of PBS’ Great Performances,) offers viewers an intimate look at the making of the groundbreaking hit musical by Tony award-winning composer-lyricist Miranda, and exclusive interviews with the cast and crew.
I called Lin today to get the skinny on this oh-so-phat special (which I will definitely be watching tonight!) and he kindly gave me some inside dish on what we can expect if we tune in. He also revealed exclusively to Vivo Por TiVo what TV shows he loves, why he was star-struck when he recently met Big Bird on Sesame Street, and he dished on his upcoming TV projects.
I’m so psyched about this PBS special on In the Heights. What can you tell us about it?
It’s a snapshot of the last two years of my life. A part of me is a little nervous about it because we did let these guys (the producers) into our lives—there’s footage of me writing in my apartment. It’s weird letting people into your life in that way, but it’s an incredible journey we went through.
Have you seen the documentary?
I have seen it, and I am so thrilled by the job these guys did. I have to say, it is weird to see your entire life in a 52 minute special. That being said, the producer, Andrew Freed was a good friend of ours already (when filming began), and so we felt very comfortable with him. As a result, they got some really amazing moments. They have footage of meetings where we’re figuring out the ending to our opening number. They have this amazing footage of Seth Stewart (one of our dancers) when he saw our billboard in Times Square for the first time—which was a 50-foot picture of Seth. And they capture when he sees that for the first time! You are not human if you’re not moved to tears by that moment.
What TV shows do you watch?
30 Rock and The Office. I’m also a Meet the Press Junkie. I wept when Tim Russert died last year.
Do you TiVo?
I do have TiVo. But I have what the Time Warner equivalent of TiVo is. I don’t have the brand TiVo.
Now that you’ve conquered The Great White Way, and there’s talks of an In the Heights movie, is there any chance you’ll write or compose something for TV in the near future?
Well, actually, one of my best friends, Bill Sherman is the Music Supervisor for the Electric Company, which is on PBS, and I’ve just finished writing a number of songs for that. I just wrote a rap battle between a hot dog and an apple! They’re filming that pretty soon (laughs). Those were fun assignments.
Will we ever see you act on a television show?
I’m actually going to be on an episode of Sesame Street in the fall, which was the thrill of a lifetime for me! I got to meet Big Bird and Snuffleupagus—that was a crazy day. I am always honored when I’m asked to work on children’s television, because that was my joint back in the day.