Successful composer Lin-Manuel Miranda is the maker behind the musical “Hamilton”. It won numerous awards and is considered one of the most successful musicals on Broadway. In the interview, Miranda gives insights into his work in show business.

Miranda tells what the biggest challenge was when writing “Hamilton” and how he is able to keep track of all the projects. And why stage fright can be a real fuel.

FOCUS Online: How would you summarize your career in a few words?

Lin-Manuel Miranda: He fell in love with musical theater but there were no roles for him. So he started writing the kind of shows he wanted to watch and be in.

Her musical “Hamilton” has won a Pulitzer Prize and eleven Tony Awards, among others. Did you expect such a success?

Miranda: My biggest hope was a show that would be popular enough with school classes that we could play long enough to recoup our producer’s investment. After all, we cover a semester of US history in just over two hours. I also knew it was the best thing I could write at the time. I didn’t ‘stupidize’ anything and put everything I had into play.

What was the biggest challenge for you in developing the musical “Hamilton”? And how did you master this?

Miranda: The challenge is the fragility of the story itself: highly subjective and unreliable. Or to be more specific: I read a book about Burr and in this one he is an evil master trickster. I then read in another book that he was a misunderstood, slandered, enlightened proto-feminist. At some point, as a playwright, I have to create my own version of all these people who really lived.

My way is to weave the unreliability of the story into the themes of the show itself: showing a momentous decision from Eliza’s perspective, then the same events from her sister’s perspective. Same facts, different perspective. I have Washington sing, “You have no control: who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”

Do you have a favorite song in the musical “Hamilton”?

Miranda: It changes for me every time I watch the show. Often the actor has something to do with it: you give someone like Leslie Odom Jr. or Joshua Henry a song like “The Room Where It Happens,” and he’ll burn down the house with his gift.

I suppose my favorite in terms of execution from all departments is Satisfied: Andy and Tommy’s production is so wonderful that I end up grateful to be a part of it at all.

The musical “Hamilton” has now been translated into German. What message can musical visitors take home with them in Germany?

Miranda: I think the secret of the show is that it’s really about the oldest question: What are we going to do with this one short life? Hamilton, Burr and Eliza have fundamentally different answers to this question. You will leave the theater thinking about your own answer as you go.

You played Alexander Hamilton yourself in the Broadway musical for a long time. Do you struggle with stage fright when performing in front of an audience? And what are your tips for dealing professionally with stage fright?

Miranda: No stage fright. Just a nervous feeling that reminds me of a talent show in the first grade of elementary school. It felt like rocket fuel: if you make it, that energy will power your ship. If you place it in the wrong place, it can blow up your ship.

I think the moment you stop feeling that, you had better stop. It’s not stage fright. It’s fuel!

Composer, songwriter, rapper, actor, voice actor and also musical star. How do you keep track of all the projects?

Miranda: The straight answer is that I have help now. A team of people to help me plan my day and say, “Hey, you should finish this song for this because it’s due here, and next week you can worry about the other thing.”

I thrive on deadlines and am bad at multitasking, so I’m fortunate to work with people who understand that part of all my jobs is creating space for daydreams.

You wrote the music for the two Disney films “Moiana” and “Encanto”. How did the collaboration with Disney come about? And what do you think is the real magic behind the Disney movies?

Miranda: Like any other job. I applied for it and handed in a package. I would be hired for Moiana before Hamilton. I really had to prove myself. The Little Mermaid was the movie that made me fall in love with musicals. To be perfectly honest, I’m always chasing that feeling I felt when I first saw Under The Sea.

How do you start new projects? Are there certain rituals?

Miranda: No rituals. I just talk a lot with my co-workers until we’re sure we’re all working toward the same outcome. Talk a lot and fall in love with the thing before we start writing.

Where do you get your motivation from? And how do you manage to stay focused?

Miranda: I’m like Hamilton in that sense: I hear the clock ticking and try to get as much done in this life as I can. But unlike Hamilton, my top priority is to be a good father and a good husband, hopefully a good neighbor and friend. I keep losing focus. Drifting is part of writing. The work itself brings me back.

How does creativity actually come about? What conditions must be created in order to work really creatively?

Miranda: Virginia Woolf put it best in 1929: a room of her own. But I’m not picky about that. I like to write with headphones on the New York subway. I wrote the last quarter of Hamilton in my mother-in-law’s laundry room when we had to live with them. Being creative means gathering all the ingredients: your craft comes into play when you rewrite something and pour all that inspiration into the food you will be serving us.

What three tips do you have for our readers on the subject of project management?

Miranda: 1. Deadlines. 2. Deadlines. 3. Deadlines.

Looking back, what was the best advice you received in your life? Who gave you this advice and what did you do with it?

Miranda: My mom accidentally started molding me into an artist with her favorite mantra: “That’s all grist for the mill. Do you want to be a writer? Maybe you need to write a character that needs to feel like that.”

In this way she created someone who always has the tape recorder on in this life. In so many moments that I’m writing, I’m really searching within myself for some approximate experience that will allow me to express how the character is feeling. The only task is to meet the moment.

What projects do you have in the pipeline? What are your plans for 2022 and 2023?

Miranda: Lots of time with my kids. I’m looking forward to the film The Little Mermaid, for which I contributed lyrics to new songs by Alan Menken.