Lin-Manuel Miranda on ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ and Movie Musicals

The star shares his five favorite movie musicals, and, yes, he says, “Labyrinth” counts: “It is totally a David Bowie movie musical.”
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Cynthia Nixon Confronts Miranda on the Campaign Trail

The creators of the fan account Every Outfit on “Sex and the City” are stumping for Cynthia Nixon and helping all of us come to terms with her most influential role (to date).
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Why Miranda Lambert Didn’t Do Interviews for Her Latest Album: ‘I’d Already Been Through Hell’

Miranda Lambert had a good reason for not doing any interviews before she released her latest album — she didn’t want to “rehash” the heartbreak that inspired it.

The Weight of These Wings was written while Lambert was going through a very public divorce from fellow country singer Blake Shelton in 2015.

“I came into Marion office and said, ‘I’m not speaking to anyone until they hear this record,’” Lambert, 34, told music journalist Holly Gleason in an interview with HITS Daily Double.

“I thought that was fair,” Lambert continued, explaining that she thought the songs spoke for themselves.

From “Vice” to “Tin Man,” “all the sad moments were there, all the truths were right in those songs. All you had to do was listen. I didn’t need to say anything,” she remarked.

The singer also revealed that she wasn’t eager about the prospect of discussing the painful memories that inspired the album over and over again.

“It was going to be hell, and I’d already been through hell,” she explained. “It was hell putting it on paper, putting my words on paper. So I didn’t want to rehash. I’d finally gotten to a place where I wasn’t sad anymore.”

RELATED: Miranda Lambert Is ‘Honest About Being Flawed’: ‘I Get My Heart Broken’ and ‘I Break Hearts’

Lambert went on to say that anything she would have told interviewers “would’ve been taken out of context.”

“It would’ve set up some expectation that couldn’t be met,” she added. “I was very publicly going through this thing, and there wasn’t an explanation to be given.”

RELATED: Blake Shelton Seemingly Calls Out Ex-Wife Miranda Lambert Amid Reports She’s Dating Evan Felker

Then, when the album came out and she was finally ready to do an interview, she was immediately asked about Shelton’s relationship with Gwen Stefani.

“I got on the phone for the first interview. First question was, ‘How do you feel about Gwen?’ I hung up. I told Marion, I just can’t do this,” she said. “What was in the music was real, and I wanted people to get it from that. Take from it what they would. Then if I needed to talk, I would. But I haven’t really. Until now.”

RELATED VIDEO: Miranda Lambert Talks Record Breaking ACM Wins: ‘I Just Always Try to Live in the Moment’

During the first part of the interview, Lambert also opened up about how she’s not afraid to put everything, good and bad, into her music.

“I am who I am. I am honest about being flawed. That’s all I can be, you know? I cuss. I drink. I get divorced and get my heart broken. I break hearts,” Lambert, who has been dating new boyfriend Evan Felker amid rumors that their friendship turned romantic after he suddenly filed for divorce from his wife, shared of her personal experiences.

“I can’t do or be that anymore, or it’ll drive me crazy. I won’t be good anymore. I felt, maybe, a different kind of fear than any other record. It was really my life’s work and my life’s story. But there was also relief, I was thankful to let the music do what the music does — and to allow myself that,” she continued.


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What Do Lin-Manuel Miranda and His DuckTales Character Have in Common?

DuckTales, Lin-Manuel MirandaLin-Manuel Miranda’s TV dreams are all coming true. The Tony winner behind Hamilton makes his DuckTales debut as Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera, aka superhero Gizmoduck, on Friday, May 11. Miranda,…

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What Do Lin-Manuel Miranda and His DuckTales Character Have in Common?

DuckTales, Lin-Manuel MirandaLin-Manuel Miranda’s TV dreams are all coming true. The Tony winner behind Hamilton makes his DuckTales debut as Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera, aka superhero Gizmoduck, on Friday, May 11. Miranda,…

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Miranda Lambert’s Nude Lips at 2018 ACM Awards Involved a $2 Product

Miranda Lambert, Academy of Country Music Awards 2018While demonstrating the glamour expected of an award-winning singer, Miranda Lambert’s makeup routine is surprisingly relatable.
Wearing a red hot George Chakras gown to the 2018…

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Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt Collaborate on a Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen Mashup for a Cause

The latest “Hamildrop” is more than just a theater lover’s dream come true — it’s a Broadway mashup with a powerful message and a plan to make change.

Lin-Manuel Miranda teamed up with Tony winner Ben Platt for a collaboration of songs from both of their hit musicals, Hamilton’s “The Story of Tonight” and “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen. The result, “Found/Tonight,” was released on Monday at midnight.

Platt and Miranda start out by swapping parts, with the 24-year-old Pitch Perfect actor singing the lyrics from “The Story of Tonight” before Miranda, 38, takes on a few lines from Dear Evan Hansen.

“Even when the dark comes crashing through/When you need a friend to carry you/When you’re broken on the ground/You will be found,” they sing together in the mashup arranged by Hamilton orchestrator Alex Lacamoire.

The song’s take on a new meaning in light of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17, with both tunes encouraging listeners to persevere in the face of hardship.

A portion of the proceeds from “Found/Tonight” will go to the March for Our Lives, which is being held in Washington, D.C., on March 24 to protest gun violence.

“In the wake of Parkland, I was awestruck by the strength and leadership of the students and their ability to speak truth to power,” Miranda said in a press release for the song. “In the midst of their grief, they mobilized the youth of our nation and created a movement. This is their moment. Not just for themselves, but for all of us. This song is my way of helping to raise funds and awareness for their efforts, and to say Thank You, and that we are with you so let’s keep fighting, together.”

Platt added in his own statement, “These students are paving the way for future generations and it’s so inspiring to see young people standing up for what is probably the most important cause right now in this country, and demanding action.  I hope that this song can play some small part in bringing about real change.”

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Parkland shooting survivors, along with celebrities like Zach Braff, praised the song.

“I just listened to it and I can’t stop crying I’m gonna listen to this forever holy heck,” tweeted Emma González, a Parkland student who has spoken out against gun violence in the month since the tragedy.

Alex Wind, another survivor, added, “Yeah, it’s incredible. Thank you so much to two brilliant minds @Lin_Manuel and @BenSPLATT for this beautiful song to help #MarchForOurLives.”

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RELATED VIDEO: Stoneman Douglas Students on What School Is Like Post-Shooting & How They’ll Remember Their Friend

Miranda announced in December that he will be dropping new spins on the music from Hamilton every month of 2018. Previous releases have included Weird Al Yankovic‘s medley “The Hamilton Polka” and The Decemberists’ “Ben Franklin’s Song.”


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Lin-Manuel Miranda to Receive Monte Cristo Award (EXCLUSIVE)

Lin-Manuel Miranda will receive the 18th annual Monte Cristo Award from the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, the new-work development organization of which Miranda is one of the highest-profile alumni. Miranda will be honored in a gala dinner set to include a conversation with the creator-star of “Hamilton” and “In the Heights.” Located in Waterford, Conn., […]

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Samara Weaving, Miranda Otto and Jessica Gomes Attend Zimmermann Dinner in L.A.

“We like to be wherever our girl is,” said Nicky Zimmermann, cofounder and designer of the label that bears her and her sister Simone’s last name. The designer was in Los Angeles to shoot the brand’s spring ad campaign, so she took the opportunity to celebrate at a dinner hosted by her fellow Australians, editors Laura Brown, Christine Centenera and Jillian Davison. The night before, Zimmermann hosted a VIP shopping party at her store on Melrose Place.
The floral-laden dinner on the pool deck of Sunset Tower attracted actresses Samara Weaving, Miranda Otto, Anna Torv, Madeline Brewer and Carson Meyer; models Jessica Gomes and Nicole Trunfio; stylists Monica Rose, Sophie Lopez, Annabelle Harron, Tara Swennen Jeanann Williams, Penny Lovell, Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, and influencers Amanda Steele and Marianna Hewitt.
Zimmermann and husband Chris Olliver, the company’s chief executive officer, were off next to check out spaces for a store in San Francisco. The company has 26 stores in Australia, one in London, and six in the U.S. “We tend to open in places where our customers travels to,” she said. “It’s not so much about trying to hit a certain number, but it’s more about having fun. Most Australians know

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Distressed Denim Scale: Are You a Miranda Kerr or Gigi Hadid?

ESC: Gigi HadidThe more wear, the better.
In the ’70s and ’80s, punk enthusiasts wore ripped jeans with accoutrements, like safety pins and buttons, in an act of defiance against mainstream…

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Lin-Manuel Miranda and Artists for Puerto Rico Release Hurricane-Relief Song ‘Almost Like Praying’ (Listen)

“Hamilton” mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda has collaborated with an all-star lineup of artists to release “Almost Like Praying,” a hurricane relief single in support of Puerto Rico. Proceeds from the song, which was released Friday morning, will go to the Hispanic Federation UNIDOS Disaster Relief Fund. In addition, YouTube will make a contribution to the organization. Recorded […]

Variety

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CMA Awards 2017: Miranda Lambert Tops List of Nominees

Brothers Osborne, American Idol alum Lauren Alaina and Dustin Lynch announced the nominations for the 2017 Country Music Association Awards Monday live on Good Morning America from New York’s Times Square. The reigning CMA Vocal Duo of the Year and rising stars Alaina and Lynch gave a few of country music’s biggest and brightest stars a little something extra to celebrate on the Labor Day holiday.

Miranda Lambert leads the pack of CMA nominees with five nominations, including nods for Single and Song of the Year categories for “Tin Man,” as well as Music Video of the Year for “Vice.” She also earned her fourth nod for Album of the Year with The Weight of These Wings, as well as eleventh nomination for Female Vocalist, a category she’s won a record-setting six consecutive times between 2010 and 2015.

Little Big Town and Keith Urban each earned four nominations, tying for second place this year. LBT’s include a Single of the Year nod for “Better Man,” Album of the Year for The Breaker, Vocal Group of the Year, and their fourth nomination for Music Video. They have been nominated in the past for “Pontoon” (2012), “Tornado” (2013), and “Girl Crush” (2015). 

Urban scored nominations for Entertainer of the Year, Single and Music Video of the Year for “Blue Ain’t Your Color” and Male Vocalist—his thirteenth nomination in the category that he won three consecutive times between 2004 and 2006. 

Read on for the complete list of nominees.

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

SINGLE OF THE YEAR
“Better Man” – Little Big Town
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban
“Body Like A Back Road” – Sam Hunt
“Dirt On My Boots” – Jon Pardi
“Tin Man” – Miranda Lambert

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
The Breaker – Little Big Town
From A Room: Volume 1 – Chris Stapleton
Heart Break – Lady Antebellum
The Nashville Sound – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
The Weight of These Wings – Miranda Lambert

SONG OF THE YEAR
“Better Man”
Songwriter: Taylor Swift

“Blue Ain’t Your Color”
Songwriters: Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey, Steven Lee Olsen

“Body Like A Back Road”
Songwriters: Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne

“Dirt On My Boots”
Songwriters: Rhett Akins, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley

“Tin Man”
Songwriters: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Reba McEntire
Maren Morris
Carrie Underwood

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Dierks Bentley
Eric Church
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Old Dominion
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
LOCASH
Maddie & Tae

MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to each Artist)
“Craving You” – Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris
“Funny How Time Slips Away” – Glen Campbell with Willie Nelson
“Kill A Word” – Eric Church featuring Rhiannon Giddens
“Setting the World on Fire” – Kenny Chesney with P!nk
“Speak to a Girl” – Tim McGraw & Faith Hill

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
“Better Man” – Little Big Town
Directors: Becky Fluke and Reid Long

“Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban
Director: Carter Smith

“Craving You” – Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris
Director: TK McKamy

“It Ain’t My Fault” – Brothers Osborne
Directors: Wes Edwards and Ryan Silver

“Vice” – Miranda Lambert
Director: Trey Fanjoy

NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Lauren Alaina
Luke Combs
Old Dominion
Jon Pardi
Brett Young 

Award show favorites Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood return to host the event for the 10th year.
The 51st annual CMA Awards air live from Nashville Nov. 8 on ABC.

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Miranda July’s New Art Project Is An Interfaith Charity Store

Housed within a luxury department store, the shop will benefit Jewish, Buddhist and Islamic charities.
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American Artist Miranda July Opens Charity Shop in Selfridges

TAKING A STANCE: Selfridges is continuing its mission of enriching shoppers’ in-store experiences. This time, the U.K. department store has teamed with the artist, writer and filmmaker Miranda July and the London-based arts organization Art Angel to create the U.K.’s first interfaith charity shop.
The shop, located on the third floor of the department store, will be run by four religious charities chosen by Miranda July: Islamic Relief, Jewish charity Norwood, London Buddhist Centre and Spitalfields Crypt Trust. It will offer a mix of products, just like other charity shops across the country, including secondhand clothing, ornaments, toys and kitchenware.
“For many years I’ve wanted to make a store as artwork; utilizing the inherently participatory conventions of commerce,” said Miranda July, who is known to create a range of artworks that depend on public participation. “When I first came to London, in my 20s, I was giddily amazed by the sheer number of charity shops, but it’s only in creating this store with Artangel that I understand what a radically unique economic model they are. The nuances of this come from my faith-based charity shop partners and from the site, Selfridges.”
The proceeds will be shared equally between the four participating charities and

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Annie: Why Miranda fans won’t be disappointed

The comic actress did her trademark gallop during the curtain call of the new West End musical.
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Miranda Kerr & Evan Spiegel Are Married

The model and Snapchat CEO are officially Mr. and Mrs. after tying the knot over Memorial Day weekend.
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Miranda Lambert Thanks Fans For Sharing In Her ‘Heartbreak’ After ACMs Win

Miranda Lambert’s “The Weight of These Wings” took home the award for Album of the Year at the 2017 Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday night, beating out “Black” by Dierks Bentley, “Dig Your Roots” by Florida Georgia Line, “Hero” by Maren Morris and “Ripcord” by Keith Urban. 

In her touching acceptance speech, Lambert thanked fans “for letting me use my heartbreak and sharing it with me.” The album, of course, was directly inspired by her personal life, namely her divorce from her husband of four years, Blake Shelton. 

Producers Frank Liddell, Eric Masse and Glenn Worf joined Lambert onstage and praised the singer for letting her soul shine through her music. 

“In the day and age of sound bites, I just want to thank Miranda for being willing to look deep in her soul and bringing her life into her heart,” Liddell said. 

Lambert, who also won Female Vocalist of the Year, was very open about the process of writing her new album, telling Billboard last year, “Every record I’ve ever made has been a reflection of where I am right then in my life, however old I am. And I’ve never held back at all. But this time, with what I happened to be going through in my life, being honest was never really a choice. Everybody knew anyway. So I just said, I’m gonna journal it, and ― good days and bad days ― use it for my art.”

The 33-year-old is now happily dating fellow musician Anderson East. Shelton is in a relationship with his “Voice” co-star Gwen Stefani. 

 

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Hamilton: Could Lin-Manuel Miranda join West End production?

Hamilton’s West End production casts its leads – but we don’t yet know who’ll play the title role.
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Miranda Lambert Bundles Up in One of 2 Fur Coats She Got for Christmas, Stirs Controversy

Miranda Lambert, Fur Coat, Christmas 2015Animal rights supporters are not happy with Miranda Lambert.
The 32-year-old country singer posted on her Instagram page on Saturday, the day after Christmas, a photo of herself bundled…

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The Best (Justin Timberlake) and Worst (Blake vs. Miranda) Moments from the CMAs

Well, announcing that The Voice's Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani are officially dating (more on that here) was one way to drum up interest in the Country Music Association Awards (CMAs). But the show didn't…


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Theater: “Hamilton’s” Miranda Is The New Biggie Smalls? No, He’s The New Sondheim!

HAMILTON *** 1/2 out of ****
RICHARD RODGERS THEATRE

Hamilton. You’ve heard of it, I think? Yep.

So I can skip the preliminaries, like the plot description or explaining what’s exactly going on here and cut to the chase. [Here’s my review of the Off Broadway run if you’re one of the four people who hasn’t heard about Hamilton already.]

Is every Broadway show going to include freestyling from now on? Of course not. And Lin-Manuel Miranda isn’t the next Biggie Smalls. He’s the next Sondheim (or to avoid such dizzying expectations, he has the talent to follow in Sondheim’s footsteps). Hamilton isn’t The Blueprint slapped onto Broadway. It’s a full blown Broadway musical, with elements of Brit-pop and girl group sounds and good old-fashioned show tunes and yes of course rapping in various styles.

Listen closely and what you’ll hear above all is a fresh new voice that is building on Sondheim’s legacy: the whip-smart lyrics, the marvelous word play, the intelligence, the building of melodies that are catchy but never banal, the deployment of lines and hooks like depth charges that repeat again and again throughout a song and throughout the show until they have a remarkable power and emotional intensity. In short, Hamilton has a lot more in common with Sunday In The Park With George than It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.

This isn’t to downplay the central accomplishment of creating the first great musical that employs hip-hop. But he’s not just doing a hip-hop show that’s playing on the Great White Way. They did Tango Argentino on Broadway and people loved it, but it’s not like every show now includes a tango salon. One-off shows in a particular style don’t change Broadway. But a full-on Broadway musical that incorporates a style that’s fresh to its audience (albeit one long-established) can change it. Miranda has grafted a strand of hip-hop onto Broadway’s DNA and it’s going to stick. The same happened with Hair and Grease and others embracing rock and roll. That genre of music and style of singing became part of Broadway’s vocabulary, just as jazz and r&b and country and other genres have intertwined with old style belting over the years.

Some great Broadway talents simply can’t sing in a rock and roll style. They’d be useless on a show like Newsies. Others can’t do country or jazz or soul. Not everyone belongs on The Wiz revival. It has nothing to do with age or talent; some people just don’t have the voice or affinity for certain genres. (You hear it time and again when opera stars make the awful mistake of tackling pop tunes.) And operetta is beyond many — that’s clearly why the delightful musical On The Twentieth Century hasn’t been done in dog years. One needs a particular refined skill to assay it. And yes one needs a very refined skill set of swagger and excellent enunciation to tackle the complex lines and internal rhymes of Hamilton and hip-hop in general. Not every Broadway wanna-be has this in their quiver. But from now on, they’re going to have to try.

We all know why some say hip-hop makes sense for this particular show. The Founding Fathers were bad mother f***ers! They laid it on the line! They were scrappy and bold and risking it all with their backs against the wall and looked down upon as Johnny Come Latelys by their betters! In short, maybe it’s sort of a fluke that the style works so well for an era once enshrined by the very old-school musical 1776.

Wrong. Hip hop works for this show because Miranda wrote it and he’s good and because he used hip-hop as a vehicle for revealing character and pushing the story forward. Imagine a musical set in France, a show about the court of the Sun King where withering put-downs and dexterous word play were prized above all. Hip-hop? Freestyling? It would work like a charm. Imagine a show about scientists, maybe the Manhattan Project or a show about Isaac Newton or Galileo or maybe string theory. In science, scholars debate and claw at one another. Creating a vivid, convincing picture of your theory is important. And tearing down someone else’s idea is just as important a skill as building up your own. A rap battle? Makes perfect sense. A show about newspaper reporters today or during the tabloid era of the 1970s or back in the Roaring 20s when (I hear) reporting was glamorous and fun and actually paid well? Yes, I can imagine hip-hop working well there too because who savors language and slang and cutting retorts more than reporters? A hip-hop Taming Of The Shrew? It’s probably already being written. A hip-hop musical for the American Revolution is no more incongruous than rock n roll as a source for the music in Spring Awakening, a show based on a German play from 1891. So let’s put to rest the idea that hip-hop will only work once in a blue moon or when whomever took an option on the movie Straight Outta Compton brings it to Broadway.

In the same way, the diverse casting of almost everyone but white guys to play these iconic roles works not because of any particular political context it creates. It works because color blind casting (or here, color-centric casting, casting with purpose and in celebration of color, not mindlessly pretending it doesn’t exist) works for everything from Shakespeare to Arthur Miller because when the material is classic and the performers are good, new layers will always be revealed. Indeed, it only works when the performers are good because no show works unless the performers are good. And this cast is great.

NOTE: Here’s casual video of Lin-Manuel Miranda and the delightful Jonathan Groff entertaining the hundreds waiting in hope of winning a $ 10 front row seat to the show. Something like this happens every day outside the theater. Try as you might to hate a show with all this hype and with endless stories in media outlets that never talk about Broadway, but when you see something cool like this, darnit, you just can’t.

Okay, so on with the show. Hamilton is an orphaned immigrant, penniless but intellectually vibrant and desperate to contribute, desperate to take part in the American Experiment. His first friend when arriving in New York is the cautious Aaron Burr. Their lives are intertwined as each succeeds and plays a major role in the Revolution, with Hamilton somehow always one step ahead of Burr and so on and then in comes Lafayette and Washington and Jefferson and King George gets huffy and you know the rest.

Hamilton is sprawling and messy and deliriously ambitious and flawed — of course, it’s flawed! You can’t push boundaries without stumbling briefly here and there — and very exciting. I saw it at the Public and held back on raving. Sometimes the bolder a film or TV show or novel, the more you want to catch your breath and hold off. A second viewing of a movie, waiting five or ten episodes into a season, living with an album for a while, all of that can make a huge difference. Sometimes, flaws become more pronounced and the shock of the new becomes less shocking. Other times, a second viewing of a movie or repeated spins of an album deepen your appreciation and bolster your confidence that this is indeed the shit. Hamilton is indeed the shit.

When I saw it at the Public, I knew it would be among my favorite shows of the year. But I felt it could be better in varied ways. If nothing else, the cramped space of the original venue was not ideal for the heavy wooden set design of David Korins. It felt a little dark and oppressive. In this transfer, almost everything on Broadway is better. Miranda — who wrote the book, music, lyrics and stars as Alexander Hamilton — refined and tightened every element of the show. (I would dearly love to see a breakdown of all the changes lyrically and musically and book-wise.) The performances are sharper and more powerful. The set can breathe. The audience is ecstatic, electric. The Producers and The Book Of Mormon were super-charged smash hits that broke through to the popular culture that is now usually indifferent to musicals. Rent was an obvious precursor in the game-changing game of stamping rock and roll as music that belongs once and for all on Broadway. But I have to go back to Angels In America for a show that felt this charged and this important both culturally and politically and especially theatrically.

And what a cast! Anthony Rapp was in the audience the night I saw it. And just like Rent, I’m certain this show has launched the careers or boosted the fortunes of any number of performers on stage. Christopher Jackson as George Washington has gained in stature since the Public. Before, his Washington seemed to fade into the background. Now he looms like a fatherly presence, wise and a little intimidating.

In the dual roles of the brash Hercules Mulligan and the reserved James Madison, Okieriete Onaodowan remains a droll pleasure. Is it possible Leslie Odom Jr. is even better as the wily, put-upon Aaron Burr? His story feels more balanced and empathetic, more of a mirror to Hamilton instead of just a foil. Burr reflects the cynical modern politician and Hamilton the ideals of passion. Yet he’s not just a bitter Salieri. If Burr hadn’t fired that fateful, fatal shot, he’d be remembered more highly. And no one seeing his show-stopper “The Room Where It Happens” — it stops a lot, this show — will forget how Odom captured Burr’s ambition and insight and frustration over being bested yet again.

Certainly Renée Elise Goldsberry couldn’t have improved as Angelica Schuyler, the woman who sacrificed her attraction to Alexander Hamilton so her sister could be happy and her family’s fortune secure. She is incandescent, both enchanting at good ole Broadway belting and sensational at rapping. Goldsberry has verve and punch and diction so crystal clear (thank you, classical training in the fundamentals!) that her flow puts most everyone else to shame. Of course, Daveed Diggs steals the show as both the outrageously fun Marquis de Lafayette in Act One and the aristocratic, combative Thomas Jefferson in Act Two. He’s hilarious in the first act and then tops himself with the second-act opener “What’d I Miss.” Miranda naturally is the heart and soul throughout, singing with the shy awkward voice of a teenager and gaining in confidence throughout without ever calling attention to the slowly evolving growth of our protagonist.

And I’d like to make a personal apology to Jonathan Groff for the modest doubt that was in my heart. Brian D’arcy James was so…so delicious as King George at the Public that I was crushed when he left for Something Rotten and bummed that friends wouldn’t be able to see his indelible turn. How would they get someone with enough star power to put over such a fun, if secondary role? Well Groff has the star power and I’ve been a fan of his on every conceivable level since Spring Awakening. But still I thought, “Damn, I wish James were still in it. He was perfect.”

Then out comes Groff and he’s a sheer delight as well. He’s of course younger but this works perfectly, emphasizing the spoiled child aspect of King George. Groff delivers completely in the part, which emphasizes what a gem Miranda created and how good Groff is when given material this sterling. Plus the Brit-pop nature of his tunes are a savvy respite from the delightfully dense, but sit-up-and-pay-attention rap lyrics that dominate the show. Along with Goldsberry’s singing at key moments and some other islands of pure singing, Groff’s scenes allow the audience to catch its breath. I guess someone else down the road will make the most of it too, but now I want everyone to catch Groff in this role. Who’d want to miss a sexy, slightly mad King George? Not me.

If King George and his signature tune “You’ll Be Back” and the monarch’s other reprises were merely the comic pleasures they are, that would be enough. But typically for this show, they’re so much more. Along with tunefulness and full-on comic relief, like everything else in this rock solid creation, George’s tunes advance the plot, provide context and underline the high-wire nature of what the rebellious colonists are attempting.

Think about what they accomplish. The King’s petulance and expectation of unquestioning allegiance makes clear why they would rebel. His unnerving threats to crush them militarily make clear how fraught with danger the situation would prove. George’s malicious glee over the utter mess that faces them after “winning” — having to create a new nation and government from scratch, deal with foreign powers, appease the various factions that only found common ground when they had the common enemy of England and so on — illuminate how in fact the easy part was winning freedom and it could all so easily fall apart, especially with England ready to undermine it at every tunr. And his utter bemusement over Washington voluntarily stepping down from the reins of power (King George had no idea such a thing was even possible!) nudges us again to remember how unusual self-rule and elected leaders and a peaceful exchange of power was for both the US and the world. All of this is conveyed subtly and with élan in tunes that you would kill for and lyrics that are sparkling and which combine in the hands of an artist like Groff to create musical theater heaven.

Most every complaint or concern I had melts away in the flush of excitement in seeing the show a second time. I appreciated anew how a lesser talent might have used hip-hop so each Founding Father could boast endlessly about himself. In fact, most of the time, everyone is rapping about someone else. Burr is the narrator so he’s usually commenting on Hamilton. And Hamilton raps about Burr and Jefferson, Jefferson raps about Hamilton, the Schuyler sisters rap about the men in their life and so on.

And how smart the show is. Like Sondheim, Miranda revels in arcana that might seem an unlikely source for musicalizing (a song about the federal banking system? ) and yet consistently brings it to life with the same passion and attention to detail that Hamilton and the rest savored at the time. Miranda and director Thomas Kail have done an excellent job of modulating the flow. Whereas the first time I saw the show, the finale felt dragged out and simply wrong, this time it moved much more quickly and felt earned. (Maybe it was just a second viewing when I knew what to expect but I imagine a change in pacing and trims here and there are responsible.) Ditto the fate of Hamilton’s son in a duel that cruelly echoes his own fate and various other plot points. The first time, I found it unnecessary and drawn out. This time, thanks to improved work by actor Andrew Chappelle and perhaps some tightening and trimming of his big scene(s), it works better.

Mind you, I remain utterly indifferent to the choreography of Andy Blankenbuehler. It leaves me just as cold on Broadway as it did at the Public. It doesn’t hurt the show, simply because it feels like mere background, something one can simply ignore. I can’t think of a single scene where the endless popping and modern moves of the chorus added emotionally to the events taking place (though director Kail uses them well for crowd scenes and transitions).

Ditto the set, which is far less oppressive in the big space of the Richard Rodgers. Less oppressive but not less interesting. It’s a wooden walkway that encircles the back and sides of the stage and i mostly underutilized. People are often positioned up there to stand and observe the proceedings below but essentially they just fade into the background. Similarly, rolling wooden platforms very rarely come into play and the one visual flourish that made good use of them has been cut. I’d sooner see it all removed and no audience would be the wiser. The costumes of Paul Tazewell are excellent throughout, with the notable exception of the female dancers in the chorus. I still don’t understand the artistic choice that has some of them wearing pants and vest akin to the men while others are unnecessarily in what are essentially undergarments.

Certainly the musical direction and orchestrations of Alex Lacamoire work in ways large and small to get across the gorgeous score while supporting the actors and allowing the lyrics (surely among the wordiest in Broadway history) to breathe. Not to mention embodying a range of styles with nimble conviction! It’s extraordinary work I am ill equipped to parse but appreciate nonetheless as boundary pushing in its own right.

Less positively, Phillipa Soo as Eliza Schuyler and the future Mrs. Hamilton remains a weak link both dramatically and voice-wise. It’s clear why her big number “Burn” is one of the few in the show to receive tepid applause. To be fair, it is in part a combination of playing the less interesting role of dutiful wife and playing it opposite Goldsberry who becomes an undeniable star in front of our eyes. And only more careful listening will prove this, but I think the melodic lines of Eliza may also be the only awkward and weak ones in the otherwise excellent score. On the bright side, Soo holds the spotlight at the finale much more convincingly, thanks to the improvements made by Miranda and Kail.

And you know what? All those cavils are exciting! The choreography and the set and even one of the leads aren’t ideal? And the show is still terrific? As I said before, it’s a treat to see Miranda in this role and his innate likability shouldn’t be underestimated in putting the show forward. But I still think the prickly role he has created will draw even better performances from other actors down the road; he is great casting and I wouldn’t miss him in it for the world. But unlike say John Cameron Mitchell and Hedwig where it was hard to imagine others tackling that part (an idea that now seems silly, but still), it’s not only not silly to imagine other actors playing Hamilton, it’s fun. He’s created a great role in a great show and people will be playing that part for all its worth for many, many years to come. And that’s only counting the actors who will appear in this production.

THEATER OF 2015

Honeymoon In Vegas **
The Woodsman ***
Constellations ** 1/2
Taylor Mac’s A 24 Decade History Of Popular Music 1930s-1950s ** 1/2
Let The Right One In **
Da no rating
A Month In The Country ** 1/2
Parade in Concert at Lincoln Center ** 1/2
Hamilton at the Public ***
The World Of Extreme Happiness ** 1/2
Broadway By The Year 1915-1940 **
Verite * 1/2
Fabulous! *
The Mystery Of Love & Sex **
An Octoroon at Polonsky Shakespeare Center *** 1/2
Fish In The Dark *
The Audience ***
Josephine And I ***
Posterity * 1/2
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame **
Lonesome Traveler **
On The Twentieth Century ***
Radio City Music Hall’s New York Spring Spectacular ** 1/2
The Heidi Chronicles *
The Tallest Tree In The Forest * 1/2
Broadway By The Year: 1941-1965 ***
Twelfth Night by Bedlam ***
What You Will by Bedlam *** 1/2
Wolf Hall Parts I and II ** 1/2
Skylight ***
Nellie McKay at 54 Below ***
Ludic Proxy ** 1/2
It Shoulda Been You **
Finding Neverland ** 1/2
Hamlet w Peter Sarsgaard at CSC no stars
The King And I ***
Marilyn Maye — Her Way: A Tribute To Frank Sinatra at 54 Below ***
Gigi * 1/2
An American In Paris ** 1/2
Doctor Zhivago no stars
Fun Home **
Living On Love * 1/2
Early Shaker Spirituals: A Record Album Interpretation ***
Airline Highway * 1/2
The Two Gentlemen Of Verona (Fiasco Theatre) ***
The Visit (w Chita Rivera) ** 1/2
The Sound And The Fury (ERS) **
Broadway By The Year: 1966-1990 ***
The Spoils * 1/2
Ever After (at Papermill) **
Heisenberg *** 1/2
An Act Of God **
The National High School Musical Theatre Awards ***
Amazing Grace *
The Absolute Brightness Of Leonard Pelkey ** 1/2
Cymbeline (Shakespeare in the Park w Rabe and Linklater) ***

_____________

Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the founder and CEO of the forthcoming website BookFilter, a book lover’s best friend. Trying to decide what to read next? Head to BookFilter! Need a smart and easy gift? Head to BookFilter? Wondering what new titles came out this week in your favorite categories, like cookbooks and mystery and more? Head to BookFilter! It’s a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. It’s like a fall book preview or holiday gift guide — but every week in every category. He’s also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes.

Note: Michael Giltz is provided with free tickets to shows with the understanding that he will be writing a review. All productions are in New York City unless otherwise indicated.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.




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WearAll Women’s Plus Size Miranda Sparkle Bodycon Midi Dress

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Miranda Hart has confessed she didn’t expect rapper 50 Cent to be so “charming” in real life.
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From Musical Theater to Miranda Lambert’s Opening Act: Courtney Cole’s Country Music Journey with #NoFilter

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Courtney Cole’s first time singing in front of an audience was almost her last. The wide-eyed eleven-year-old spent weeks preparing to sing in front of her Louisiana church for the first time. She was so confident in her preparation and eager to make her debut that right before she went onstage, she asked her piano accompanist to forego the song’s introduction.

“It was a disaster,” Cole recalls. “I started singing in the wrong key. I knew it right away, but I couldn’t figure out how to switch when the piano came in. I barely finished, and then I immediately went to the bathroom and cried my eyes out. I told my mom I would never, ever sing again.”

Despite the traumatic experience, Cole’s fifth-grade resilience kicked in and she was singing in church again a couple of weeks later. Church performances soon turned into musical theater, which led Cole to attend the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts near her hometown of Mandeville, Louisiana, as a high schooler.

“I’ve always loved to perform and feel so at home on stage,” Cole says. “I know this sounds so generic, but I love Wicked. My family names all of our animals after Wicked; my mom had a fish named Glinda, and her dog’s name is Elphaba. There’s a spell that Elphaba says in the play, ‘Eleka nahmen nahmen ah tum ah tum eleka nahmen,’ and that’s my dog’s name. I call her Ellie for short. Now I just need a boy dog to name Fiyero!”

Musical theater came so naturally for Cole that she almost pursued the passion after high school until a conversation with her church’s worship pastor helped change her course. “I had a scholarship to go to school in Alabama for musical theater,” she says. “My worship pastor said, ‘You don’t need to go do that that. You need to do your ultimate dream, which is touring and being onstage and singing music that you’ve written.'”

Inspired by the conversation, Cole applied to Belmont University in Nashville. “I got in at the last audition they had for the year and moved to Nashville, and I’ve been here ever since.”

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“I majored in commercial voice,” Cole says. “Thank God that’s a major! What else would I have majored in? Accounting? I couldn’t!” she adds with a laugh. “Music is the only thing I’m good at. There’s nothing else I would want to do. I respect and appreciate the people who do the business side of [music] so much because it’s just so hard. I did it for a while, and I couldn’t even think. It just wasn’t me.”

Cole calls her journey “your typical Nashville story.” She explains, “I worked my way up. After I graduated, I got an internship at a publishing company…from a guy I met on MySpace, actually,” the singer adds. “I worked there doing a bunch of odd jobs. I would work from 9 – 5, then sing and write from 6 – 10, because that’s what I ultimately wanted to do. The company executives saw what I was doing and decided to give me a publishing deal! That’s where my journey as a professional songwriter and artist really began. I’ve been refining my writing and crafting my sound over the last couple of years, and here I am now. “

Here is a place Cole describes as “exactly where I’ve always dreamed I would be.” She has a new music video, “Drunk,” which is making waves on CMT and GAC. Her Spotify-exclusive acoustic EP, #NoFilter, has been received well by fans and critics alike, and she’ll join one of her country idols, Miranda Lambert, on an all-female country tour this fall.

“Making the video for ‘Drunk’ was one of the best experiences of my life,” Cole gushes. “When we were finished, I looked at my manager and said, ‘Can we do that again?’ It was just a really fun day. It brought in the music side and my theater side.”

The video was shot in Nashville, but Cole infused elements of New Orleans as a tribute to a town that she says has been a constant inspiration. “Personality-wise, music-wise, color-wise, it’s just so inspiring,” she says. “That’s all the stuff I want to bring out in my music. We couldn’t film in New Orleans because Mardi Gras was going on, so we decided to bring Mardi Gras to Nashville! If you look closely, you can see fleurs-de-lis in a few places in the video.”

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The song “Drunk” was the product of a writer’s retreat between Cole and co-writers Catt Gravitt, Gerald O’Brien, and Shirazi.”We wrote five songs that trip, but we knew right away there was something really special about ‘Drunk,'” Cole says. “What you hear on Spotify is actually the acoustic work tape that we did in the cabin that day. I knew it would make the perfect first single and be a great stepping stone for the album.” (Fans can find the fully-produced version of “Drunk” on iTunes.)

Cole’s Spotify-exclusive debut also includes the beautiful ballad “Fall Like Rain,” which provides a great balance to the fun, upbeat “Drunk” and “Can’t Buy Love.” The inspirational “Cool Girl” finishes out the four-song collection, making it a very strong showing for the Louisiana native, who is road-tested, to say the least.

She has played hundreds of shows supporting acts including Chris Young, Thompson Square, and Kip Moore. But she shows she’s most excited about are yet to come. This fall, she will join one of her country-music heroes, Miranda Lambert, on a resurrection of Lambert’s Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour at venues across the country. The all-female lineup includes Lambert, Cole, “God Made Girls” singer RaeLynn, Lambert’s Pistol Annies partner-in-crime Ashley Monroe, and up-and-coming country artist Clare Dunn.

“I’m so excited for the tour. It feels so surreal,” Cole says. “Miranda’s music changed songwriting for me. She changed the way that I view music in general, and writing from a personal standpoint. Her writing helped me get down to the truth of who I am as a writer and find what I want to say to the world, and it just made me want to be better.”

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Although landing the tour with Miranda is a dream come true for the young artist, she’s quick to note that there are many dreams left to achieve. And the best way to make those dreams come true? Believe in them, she says.

“If I could sum up my story in one sentence, it would be that dreams really do come true, and with a little hard work and staying positive, you can make anything happen,” she says with conviction. “Your thoughts really do become your life. When I was a little girl, I would sit in my room and pretend like I was on tour. I would see the arena in my head. And the fact that I’m here now, and get to go out and play my music live on the road, it’s amazing! But I knew that was going to happen from the time I was a little girl, because I believed it.”

Country fans had better believe they’ll be hearing a LOT from Courtney Cole in the future. Between now and the kickoff of the Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour in September, country fans can enjoy her acoustic EP, #NoFilter, exclusively on Spotify. For more information, visit CourtneyColeMusic.com.

Live photo courtesy of Courtney Cole. Professional photos by Ivan Clow.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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A Mouse Tale Official DVD Trailer (2015) – Drake Bell, Miranda Cosgrove Animated Movie HD

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This Is Miranda Lambert And Blake Shelton’s Definition Of ‘Us’ Time

It’s not easy for country superstars Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton to find alone time between their nonstop careers and hectic touring schedules.

“We gotta schedule it in,” Lambert told HuffPost Live’s Ricky Camilleri when she sat down with him on Thursday.

So how does the country-singing couple unwind in their downtime? In pretty much the most country way possible:

“We backroad — we take our cooler, we take our dogs, we ride four-wheelers and we just sit on the porch. We started fishing because it’s spring now,” Lambert said.

“That’s why we live where we live [in Oklahoma],” she added. “Because it’s absolutely opposite of our crazy life on the road.”

You can watch the full conversation with Lambert here.

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