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A documentary style podcast exploring how a show evolves from idea to full production.

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In the Heights (Part 2) Transcript

Patrick Hinds: Hey podcaster listeners, Patrick here, I just wanted to say that creating these episodes of Broadway Backstory just would’ve been impossible without our partners at Today Tix. They have been such a great friend, not just to the theater podcasting community, but also really to anyone who loves to see great theater at deeply discounted prices. So indulge me for a minute while I tell you a little bit more about my friends, Today Tix. First of all the app is available for free in the app store or Google Play. And with just a few taps you can get tickets to all kinds of live events, not just plays and musicals, you guys, but also comedies, operas and ballets. Today Tix is available in cities like New York, Chicago, London and D.C.

I look at the app for tickets in all of these cities, some have offerings as low as $13. I’m looking at you Chicago. And this is my favorite part, first-time users can use the code, backstory, at checkout to save $15 on your first purchase. You’ll hear me talk a bit about Today Tix over the course of these episodes, because I’m obsessed with them and you should be to. One more thing you guys, you have until November 21st to vote on the show you want us to cover in our final episode of season one. We’ve picked five shows for you to vote on, you can see what they are and vote once per day at todaytix.com/broadwaybackstory. Okay now to the show. From Today Tix and Theater People this is Broadway Backstory; the podcast that finds out how a show develops from an idea to a full Broadway production. I’m your host, Patrick Hinds.

This is episode two of the backstory of “In the Heights”. If you haven’t yet listened to episode one, I strongly suggest you do that first. So we’re picking up the story just after book writer Quiara Alegria Hudes and co-orchestrator Alex Lacamoire were added to the creative team. The cast and creative’s were headed to a week’s long intensive workshop at the Eugene O’Neil Theatre Center in Connecticut. The workshop would be a major turning point for “In the Heights”. Producer Jill Furman explains … Maybe can you explain what the O’Neil is and why it’s significant.

Jill Furman: Sure, it’s a program that allows artists to work on their material. They were there for a couple weeks and they just were able to work and just focus on the work with each other, with the cast, seeing what works, seeing what didn’t. And then these … the work that they’ve done is presented in front of an audience. And so you can hear the project up on its feet and you can see what people are reacting to and what, again, what works and what doesn’t. And like I said before, that’s when we realize that a primary, like one of the main characters was going to go bye, bye.

Patrick Hinds: Here’s Lin.

Lin-Manuel: You know Lincoln hung in there because he had good tunes. So Lincoln then … we dropped the I’m in the closet in love with  my best friend, and he was sort of a song writer in the neighborhood. And then he finally died at the O’Neil workshop in 2005 when we realized if we cut Lincoln and Lincoln had issues with his dad, and fighting with his parents, and we transferred those over to Nina. Suddenly Nina became more complicated, and suddenly we had all this room to tell all these other stories that were [unintelligible 00:03:23]. So Lincoln died, so the rest of us could live.

Patrick Hinds:       Lincoln wasn’t the only character to die at the O’Neil, remember Doreen Montalvo the actress to have been the first person to ever audition for “In the Heights”? Since the very first readings of the show at the Drama Bookshop, she’d been playing a character named Alma, the mother to the character named Alma the mother to the character Benny played by Chris Jackson. Early on, they double cast her in the role of Camilla, Nina and Lincoln’s mother. Doreen takes the story from here.

Doreen Montalvo: Remember Tommy Kail coming up to me after rehearsal one day saying, “Hey Doreen, if you had your chance to play Alma or Camilla, which would you want?” And I went, “Ooh,” and Alma had these two beautiful, this one gorgeous song called, “Never Give your Heart Away”, that she sang to Benny and I just … it was the most beautiful song. And I didn’t want to kind of like not ever sing that, so I’m like, “Well I guess I’d like to stay playing Alma.” They wound up cutting Alma out. So … but here’s the cool thing about it, so when they finally cut Alma out, and decided that Camilla Rosario would be the mom character, that’s when Lin was like, “Well we need a grandmother,” and I’ll never forget this, I get a phone call from Lin and Bill Sherman, and they’re like, “Doreen, wait until you hear the song that we just wrote for you.” And I’m like, “What?”

And the next day they gave me a cassette tape of the two of them singing Paciencia Y Fe. Then I was playing Abuela Claudia, because Alma was dead, they wrote that song with me … with my voice in mind, and I was … I played Abuela Claudia both … we had readings at Manhattan Theater Club, a reading at the Lion Theater, reading at Reportorial Espanola for backers and stuff and that was my character. Then we went to the O’Neil for summer for two weeks and I played Abuela there. That was the last time I would sing that song. All of a sudden I was dropped, and it was because they already had a mom, you know he’d always had Pricilla Lopez in mind for the mom. And producing office felt that I was too young to play the grandmother, so I just got dropped. But I didn’t know I had gotten dropped.

Patrick Hinds: Nobody told you?

Doreen Montalvo: Nobody told me. This is where youth comes into play. This is where it was everybody’s first time at this, so I don’t think anybody knew how to go about saying anything. And I’ll never forget, Chris Jackson called me to see how I was doing, not knowing and I’m like “Oh, oh thank you for telling me.” And I was cool, and I was hurt and sad, but the thing that I think hurt me the most was that nobody called me to tell me anything. But then I just chalked it up to youth and inexperience. And just said, you know what it was a beautiful couple years, and whatever’s meant to be is meant to be.

Patrick Hinds: Back in New York, after the success at the O’Neil, the producers decided to mount a full workshop of the piece in March of 2006. It was essentially mounted for perspective investors and to gauge industry interest.

Jill Furman: At this point we didn’t know what we were doing, we were either moving forward with the project or we were abandoning it, I don’t think anyone thought we were going to abandon it. But that was the point of putting it up on its feet and you spend a lot of money to do this kind of workshop with not sets, but sort of a sets that move around so that … with staging, with some staging and that was essentially a backer’s audition to see whether we were going to go forward or not. And we did that at 37 Arts which was a theater that Kevin and Jeffrey owned.

Kevin McCollum: It’s funny because Jeffrey and I built that building with a couple of other partners and we tore down a parking lot for those lunch carts. And we built a theater. If we hadn’t have built that theater, I don’t know how we would’ve gotten “In the Heights” started, so that’s the importance of that theater and the history of show business. Because we had a place to do a workshop.

Patrick Hinds: What Kevin McCollum is saying here is that if they hadn’t had their own theater, they may not have been able to do a workshop and without a workshop there would’ve been no Off Broadway and no Broadway. So not to belabor a point, but I’ll say it again, there are a million ways in which “In the Heights” could’ve easily not happened. Anyway, future Tony winner Karen Olivo joined the company, at this point, and her audition story has always been one of my favorite stories associated with the early days of “In the Heights”, it’s too funny not to share.

Karen Olivo: This tells you everything about me. So they put it … it’s like a dance, like mover dancer thing and I don’t think we had to sing, we had to dance, we had to do like … I think the choreographer wanted to make sure we could move. And it was a room full of us, like a bunch of Latin girls and a handful of guys; Lin was in the room. And they paired me up with Lin and I thought he was just  like some kid with two left feet. And I was like … and I’m thinking to myself, like I wasn’t being like rude, but I was like okay get it together, basically, wasn’t being kind, I’m not like a jerk in the audition room. But I was like … I was having a hard enough time with the dancing myself, so I was like okay this guy cannot mess me up. And they gave us like a little improve and they’re like, “Okay so you enter like this club and everyone wants to dance with you and you’re with this guy and what happens.

And so they started playing music and I left him in the dust. And they were like “Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop, stop, stop, come back, come back, come back. Okay no, no you actually like him.” And I was like “Oh I like him? Okay great. Let’s do it again.” Just like the composer lyricist dissing him in his own audition, I had no idea, no idea.

Patrick Hinds: She, of course, got the part. There were three performances of that backers workshop, and Doreen Montalvo, the actress who had been dropped, got a ticket to one of the performances.

Doreen Montalvo: Janet Dacal called me and said, “I have a ticket for the workshop. Do you want to come see it?” And I went, “Yeah,” because I promised myself no matter what, I want to see this thing on its feet. I put too  much time, and heart and stuff not to see this happen. And so I’ll never forget, Henri Ganza, who played the original Lincoln and he and I sat there in the audience, held hands and just cathartically cried through the entire thing. And I’ll never forget, at intermission I bump into the producers, Jill, and Kevin and Jeffrey and they looked at me, we hugged each other and Jill was the one who said, “Doreen do you realize why we did what we did?” I said, “Yes, of course, of course you needed somebody who looked older, etcetera, etcetera.” I said, “But I know all the parts and you’re going to need a cover.” I literally, at that … I had nothing to lose.

But it was the God honest truth, I did, I had done all the moms, I had done grandma, so I’m like, “I know all the parts and you’re going to need a cover.”

Patrick Hinds: Okay, you can’t hear it because I ripped the microphone away from my face when it happened, but I literally squealed when Doreen told me this part of the story. I mean talk about knowing your worth as a performer. Right? Anyway, to say the workshop had been a success, would be an understatement. And almost immediately the producers began talking about mounting a commercial Off Broadway run.

Kevin McCollum: Well I remember after the workshop I turned to Jeffrey and I just said, and Lin, I said, “I’m really going to miss these characters, it’s been so much fun getting to spend time with them, even in this workshop we did.” And that’s when we committed to open the show Off Broadway. I did a little rap about how … I can’t remember it, but I did a little improv, because I used to do improv songs as a party trick, now of course I’m no Lin-Manuel Miranda, nobody is, but I did some sort of rhyme sort of scheme of, you know we’re Off Broadway now, you know but we’re going to find our way and how when we get to hit the bright white way, that’s’ when they’re going to really discover our play, yo, yo.  And I was just … I just like lame producer trying to … and everybody laughed and we had a nice time.

Patrick Hinds: At that point, things began to move very quickly. Andy Blankenbuehler was added as choreographer. And guess who got a phone call?

Doreen Montalvo: They called me up saying, “Hey, we’re going to do a little pre-production, we just hired a new choreographer, we really want you onboard. We want keep you onboard.” I’m like, “Yes,” and “Can you come in and just audition for Andy?” literally the only audition I ever had for “In the Heights” was in 2002. You know so I went in and I danced with … we did a little Paciencia Y Fe dance and I go into the Off Broadway production and Lin is like, “We’re going to give you the role of the bolero singer.” And I don’t know, it was just, “Hey Doreen I owe you this or whatever it is, but I’m grateful for it.” You know [unintelligible 00:12:19] and then I also understudied Camilla, Daniella and Abuela, respectively. I’d had my own track so I was woman number four, bolero singer, so I had a feature role. And an understudy covered all three principle parts.

Patrick Hinds: The producers also decided that the Off Broadway run should play at the same theater where they had had their successful workshop.

Doreen Montalvo: Most shows, if they’re going to do a tryout, they go out of town, they’ll go to Chicago or Seattle or L.A. what have you, but since this was a quintessentially New York story, we wanted to do our out of town tryout in town.

Patrick Hinds: And the producers set about the very difficult task of creating buzz and selling tickets to a show that had only ever been seen by a few hundred industry professionals.

Kevin McCollum: You know when you’re previewing a show a lot of times you get calls for comps and things like everyone thinks, especially Off Broadway, like what you’re going to need to fill a theater, can I have some free tickets. So I got a call from some very notable Broadway people “Hey, hey I’m going to come see your show,” I’m like, “Great,” so “Can I get some comps?” And I’m “No.” and they’re like “What do you mean no? You’re sold out …?” I said, “No, but the seats are only, week one, they’re only like 20 bucks. Now if you’re telling me you don’t have $20 I’ll pay for your $20, but I’m not going to comp you.” And like, “Oh I didn’t realize that.” Well what happened was, it really worked well is that the first week was $20, the second week was $30, the fourth week was $40 and then we went up to, at that time I guess it was, a $65 top Off Broadway, who knows, I can’t quite remember.

But we had 300 people, sometimes 400 people a night, sometimes 250, but by running the show for six months, at an affordable price, we ended up being able to pay our weekly. We never really recouped the $2,000,000 we spent, but by spending the 2,000,000 to get the show up and then losing a little bit of money over the 26 weeks, we created a more detailed roadmap of how to get to Broadway.

Patrick Hinds: Talk of a Broadway transfer was in the air even before the Off Broadway production opened. But of course nothing was guaranteed. Here’s director Tommy Kail again.

Tommy Kail: The show opened and the reviews were pretty good but it was not like move the show to Broadway or else. It was not that kind of critical response, although it was very positive and a lot of really nice things were said about the show. It was sort of a very encouraging reviews, keep going was something that felt like it was kind of the subtext of a lot of them. And we had producers who were risk takers and they said we’ll find an audience and they said, “And that’s our job to find the audience, so let’s all work together to make the show the most excellent thing it can be, let’s take the time.” So the show learned a lot when we were Off Broadway for six months.

Patrick Hinds: Here again is the show’s co-orchestrator Alex Lacamoire.

Alex Lacamoire: You know we didn’t know what was going to happen with “Heights”, like it was not a surefire thing that Heights was going to go to Broadway at any point. And that’s’ why I think … well there’s a lot of love and “In the Heights” period full stop, I know for me, there was a lot of love in it because I … there was no real goal in mind, not for me anyway. I was just working on some cool ass music with some cool ass dudes and whatever became of it was whatever it was going to be. Because you spend a lot of time working on readings that don’t get a production out of it. And you put a lot of work into making arrangements and having rehearsals with things that’s just kind of fizzle and go away. So I was ready for that to have happened with “In the Heights”.

So there was no real definite surefire thing and you know even when we got the reviews Off Broadway you know we could tell that there was a love for the show, we could tell that they were people who were excited about what we needed … what we were doing. But it wasn’t near until the summer; we closed in July of 2007 and we probably found out we were going to Broadway in June.

Patrick Hinds: I can’t get anyone to remember an exact date, but at some point towards the end of the run the producers gathered the cast and made the announcement that the show was transferring to Broadway.  Here’s Jill Furman again.

Jill Furman: I think most people assumed it was going to happen, but you want to be there for the moment that you hear it from the producers that it’s really … you know and a lot of these people were making their Broadway debuts. And so that was a family that was created  and it was sort of echoing what you saw on stage, in real life, all these amazing bonds and people were just so over the moon about being able to … you know being a part of it and being a part of something special. And you know a lot of the actresses I remember were … I was always crying, I mean I would think because I was … I’m very emotional and I was always moved by everything and they just … they were so happy that their culture was going to be represented in this positive light on Broadway and you know on a huge stage.

Patrick Hinds: Here’s how Doreen Montalvo remembers it.

Doreen Montalvo: But we knew the show was a hit, we knew it was going to move. And we were just like okay so it’s going to happen and a couple weeks before we closed Off Broadway we have a cast meeting with the producers and Jeffrey’s sitting there and you know Jill and Jeffrey and Kevin are like, “Well we just want to let you know that we’re going to Broadway.” We’re like, “Yeah,” “But we don’t know when.” We’re like, “Wah, wah, we’re going to super Broadway.” So it was like what’s happening? So because they really, really, really wanted the Rodgers so they wanted to wait to get the Rodgers.

Patrick Hinds: Here’s Kevin McCollum.

Kevin McCollum: And we always wanted the Richard Rodgers. There was another show that was supposed to go in there that was a revival and, as it turned out, that revival went in a different direction. Which is … we were happy about, because we always felt an original show should take precedent over a revival because we were bringing new voices to Broadway. So we … working with the [Nederlanders] they were very helpful and the show went into another direction. And we were able to get the Richard Rodgers and open.

Patrick Hinds: Can I ask you why .. what is it about the Rodgers that was so special that made you want to have it?

Kevin McCollum: Well I think it’s one of the more special theaters because it … the audience embraces the stage, the way it’s shaped it’s like a beautiful … it’s a bowl, but it’s not like a … it’s a very sort of … it’s a gentle slope and then it kind of goes up. So even … like there’s a large orchestra to a mezzanine and there’s only two levels. So it’s a really terrific theater, it’s a really proportionately beautiful theater. And you can’t beat being midtown, you know being on 46th is fantastic.

Patrick Hinds: There was a six month window between the show closing Off Broadway and then the beginning of rehearsals and then previews on Broadway and creatively there was a lot to get done.

Jill Furman: Lin excised three songs and wrote three new ones, wrote a new song for the mother, got rid of a Benny song, and changed another song, so there was a lot of script work going on because we saw what worked and what didn’t when we were at 37 Arts. PR had changed the thrust of Nina’s story, we’re going to SpotCo and having preliminary meetings about what was the advertising going to be and we shot a commercial up in Washington Heights, which showed you the music and showed them dancing and this like, just cool community and that was just sexy. And then we also … we worked on a completely new print campaign that would echo what we did on TV.

Patrick Hinds: In all, reportedly the creative team spent more than $12,000,000 mounting the Broadway production. I wondered what experiencing that was like for someone like Doreen who was making her Broadway debut with the show and had been with it since the very beginning when they were performing it from music stands with no set back in the basement of the Drama Bookshop. Could you ever have imagined when you walked into that audition for the bookshop that you would be ending up making your Broadway debut?

Doreen Montalvo: No not at all. And for me, my Broadway debut was at the age of 45. It was like, okay you know what, dreams come true as Karen says, dreams come true, bitches. So I was like tenacity, hard work, just never say die, you know just sticking to it and I guess … you know and thanking God basically. I was grateful for, I guess, having been in it from the very beginning, I think that kind of helped.

Patrick Hinds: “In the Heights” officially opened on Broadway on March 10th, 2008 to basically ecstatic reviews.

Doreen Montalvo: Charles Isher would call Lin a singular sensation and I think he likened him to Ethel Merman, if I recall, which was pretty awesome. And you know just a “Star is Born,” kind of thing. And so we got a lot of good reviews. We also got … there was, you know some really frustrating comments like, “Where are the guys with the knives? And where are the drugs?” And you know it was so frustrating for Lin and just awful. And he just said, “I wrote what I know and this is what I know and it’s just a neighborhood in upper Manhattan.” So … but for the most part, it got a very, very good critical reception.

Patrick Hinds: “In the Heights” was nominated for 13 Tony Awards which made it the most nominated show of the year. Here’s Lin and Doreen remembering the day of the awards.

Doreen Montalvo: This is something that never happens either, was we actually … the producers bought all of us tickets for the Tony’s, so as a cast we had a matinee and then we all got dressed and the leads went out early and we did the red carpet. The female ensemble hired a limo, and we went … we took a limo, we went to Radio City Music Hall where we sat … we were like in the back row, like the back few rows of the orchestra, but we all sat there. There were like three rows of us all sitting together just holding hands and watching this.

Lin-Manuel: Every moment of that day is surreal and there’s the section of the Tony’s they don’t show on TV where actually our lives changed even then. So before 8:00 my best friends, Alex and Bill has won a Tony for best orchestrations … and Andy had won a Tony Award for best choreography.

Lin-Manuel: And so we were already kind of loopy. We know we have to perform 96,000 and the opening number …

Doreen Montalvo: You know then they pulled us out of the road to go and get changed in the dressing rooms up there. And then we did the number …We got changed back, we sat back in our seats …

Lin-Manuel: And then this …

Patrick Hinds: You gave the best speech of all time.

Lin-Manuel: Which I practiced in the shower, but never wrote down. I just had a couple of couplets in my head that I had in the chamber, if I win, it’ll be easier for me to do, say it and make it rhyme than to … if I get emotional and speak from the heart it’ll get all blubbery and no one will enjoy that. So I had these couplets in  my head and half of them flew out the window. I mean in the moment … you can actually see the moment where it leaves my head, it’s right after the Chris Jackson thing. Because that’s when the cast started screaming. And that’s when some receptor in my brain said this is real, this is real, this is not you in a mirror with a comb, this is real.

[00:24:32  – 00:25:38 Show]

Lin-Manuel: And so I sort of make up and fum for the middle of it, and then I had the Puerto Rican flag in my pocket and I knew I was ending with that. But it’s about half written in my head and half just sort of made up as I’m looking around frantically for people to thank.

Patrick Hinds: At the end of the night came the all-important category of best musical, here’s director Tommy Kail.

Tommy Kail: If you win the Tony Award for best musical, it means your show has a real chance to run and to possibly recoup, which means maybe there’s a little bit of financial stability in a business that’s obviously very up and down. It means you might have a tour that goes out, it means that the show’s message will spread, it means that the licensing for the show is going to be exposed in a different way well beyond you. So it’s … you know it’s a pretty significant thing for a musical, especially a new musical.

Doreen Montalvo: We thought we had a good shot, but we didn’t know and you know you campaign to the degree that you can, but everyone’s doing essentially the same thing. And “Passing Strange was certainly … it was a real contender. I mean I was nervous the night of the Tony’s, I mean we just didn’t know what was going to happen.

Whoopi: And the winner, the 2008 Tony Award goes to “In the Heights”.

Jill Furman: We talked about the kind of thing I was going to say, which was just to sort of sell … because you’re always selling, so it’s not just that you win, you’re then selling it when you’re thanking everyone.

[00:27:20 – 00:27:47 Show]

Jill Furman: It was the, oh my God, the most amazing moment, it was so heady and overwhelming and … but this was the first time I was a lead producer. So I felt like I was with all of these other … all the creative team making their Broadway debuts, and all the actors making their Broadway debuts and it was very special.


Patrick Hinds: Here’s director Tommy Kail again.

Tommy Kail: And I remember being on stage after they’d announced that we had won and everybody was up there and it’s one of those moments where I will always remember this and Lin was being hoisted up, and thank you Broadway. And everybody cheered and Whoopi Goldberg said, “Goodnight,” and it was 11:01 and everybody in the audience got up and started to leave. And I saw all of my friends who were standing on stage, all go off left or right or wherever and I just stood, kind of stood there by myself. And in my mind, and this is not true, like you know like someone came sweeping up and like, “Got to go kid, we got to turn out the lights.” I was like, “Oh not yet, golly gee, I just made it here.” But I remember standing there and watching everybody leave the theater and the audience get up, because the show was over, and start thinking about where they were eating and where the party was, and next season.

And I just had this very clear thought, if it’s about this moment, look how fleeting this moment is, it’s already over. So it actually can’t be about this. We have to create a different set of values, because if this is the mountaintop, and this is like the pinnacle of the thing, it’s over at 11:01. And now of course, it continues and what you see is that like it starts to reverberate, because it means the show is going to have a life.  But it can’t just be about that trophy, it has to be about look what we did to get here, look how we got here, look how we made this thing. How we made it, matters to me as much as the what. And so I was very proud of how we made that show and that, to me, was probably the most lasting and salient part of that.


Patrick Hinds: “In the Heights” the show that began as a college project and was nurtured in the basement of the Drama Bookshop, won four Tony Awards that night, including best orchestrations for Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman, best choreography for Andy Blankenbuehler, best original score for Lin-Manuel Miranda and of course, best musical. It would go on to play 29 previews and 1,184 regular performances on Broadway. Long before “In the Heights” finished its run, Lin had begun working on another project, in dribs and drabs he started playing songs he was working on about an obscure-ish founding father named Alexander Hamilton, for director Tommy Kail and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire. Producers Jill Furman and Jeffrey Seller would produce the work and Andy Blankenbuehler would choreograph.

Producer Kevin McCollum would go on to produce the Tony nominated revival of “West Side Story”, the play, “Hand to God”, and the new musical, “Something Rotten”, among many others. Book writer Quiara Alegria Hudes won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2012 for her play, “Water by the Spoonful.” And I am so excited to get to tell you now that the interview I did with Doreen Montalvo, you know the first person to ever audition for “In the Heights”, who was then dropped after the O’Neil workshop, but then rehired for Off Broadway and then Broadway, making her Broadway debut at 45. We did that interview in the balcony of the Marquee Theater where she can be seen eight times a week in, “On Your Feet”, a show she’s been with from its beginning.

And get this, you guys, the actor Henry Ganza who Doreen mentioned just briefly had played the role of Lincoln, you know the gay character in “In the Heights” up until the character was written out, he is also making his Broadway debut in, “On Your Feet.” I, of course, screamed when Doreen told me that. Yes.


Patrick Hinds: The story of “In the Heights” has a really cool coda, let me set the scene, it’s the Tony Awards in 2013 at Radio City Music Hall, Neil Patrick Harris was the host and Kinky Boots was the big winner. Lin and Tommy were stationed backstage where they were, in real time, writing the closing number for the show.

Lin-Manuel: Hello, we’re backstage at the Tony Awards, we’re writing a rap for Neil Patrick Harris for the Tony’s, it depends on what happens tonight.

Patrick Hinds: And by in real time, I mean that as different people and shows won, they would write the winners into a rap that they were writing on the fly.


Patrick Hinds: Neil Patrick Harris would come by at commercial breaks or whenever he had a second to learn it so that he could perform it with Audrey McDonald during the closing credits.


Patrick Hinds: So when it came time for the number, Audrey was stationed on a platform underneath the stage that would rise when it came time for her to sing. Lin, who would be playing the piano for the number, we stationed with her. Now if you remember, Lin first met Audra back in the days of the Drama Bookshop when Tommy was her assistant. Lin takes the story from here.

Lin-Manuel: Cut to 2013 and I don’t know if you know this, but if you watch the closing number, I’m at the piano. I’m in the background, I’m literally getting my Mark Shaman on and I’m pretending to play piano in the back, while Audra is singing, so I came up on the platform with her as she came out. And so we’re down there and Audra turns to me and says, “You know Lin I remember Tommy saying hey I’m working” … my assistant saying, “Hey I’m working on this show in the basement of the Drama Bookshop, do you want to come see it? And I was like “Sure kid.” And look where we are right now in the basement of Radio City Music Hall waiting to get raised on a platform.” It was a very full circle moment.


Patrick Hinds: Stay tuned after the credits for scenes from our next episode which undercover the backstory to the Tony winning and groundbreaking fun home. Now that you’ve heard the backstory to “In the Heights”, we want to let you know that you can see ”In the Height” on stage in the west end in London and in Chicago. Be sure to check out our app or todaytix.com for tickets. And for all of you “Hamilton” fans in Chicago, sign up for alerts in the Today Tix app to get notified whenever tickets go on sale. Ticket prices will always be at face value. One last thing you guys; you know how so many shows have moved away from in-person lotteries and rush tickets, to mobile lotteries and mobile rush tickets, Today Tix pioneered that technology. And as I scroll through the app offerings in the various cities, I counted over 35 lottery and rush opportunities. I cannot stress enough that if you’re looking for tickets on the cheap, check out the Today Tix app, look for your city and find the deals. Lastly just a reminder to head to todaytix.com/broadwaybackstory to vote for the show you want us to cover in the season one finale. Special thanks to Steve Tipton, Mike Jensen and Ricky Condos for the invaluable production help. And now here are scenes from our next episode.

[00:35:34 – 00:36:02]

Janine: It was a story that I felt I wanted to tell, almost as soon as it happened, almost as soon as my father died. I also knew that I couldn’t possibly tell it, you know I couldn’t reveal this big family secret, either that my dad was gay or that he had killed himself.

Jill Furman: I had never met Janine, but I just felt like that was the person. When I met with her I remember her sitting in this chair with sort of her legs curled up underneath her and sort of flipping that mane of hair. And she was holding the book and she said, “I cannot picture how this book will become a musical.” And my heart just sank. And she said, “And that’s why I’m interested in it.” And I thought, right, you are the shit, this is it, you are the person.

Janine: I could tell that the people in the story had so much desire, they wanted things so badly.

Female: She was like, ”Sorry you’re just not working as fast as I need you to work, next.” You know what I mean, but it’s not like … “Nothing personal, we can totally get drinks, but you’re fired.”

Male: We were going to do what I often do [as Charles] which is take the show out of town to original theater, do a production and then a year later do it here. So essentially a long-term out of town tryout. Very shortly before that was supposed to happen our regional theater pulled out and I am sorry to say, pulled out because of their fear of the subject matter.

Janine: I was so relieved to, after four or five nominations, to get that award, it was really important to me. I was really proud to be with Lisa, I was really somewhat disgusted that it was the first time.

Patrick Hinds: Next time on Broadway Backstory

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