Lin-Manuel Miranda Explains How Hamilton Was Influenced By His Work On In The Heights

Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera dancing In The Heights
(Image credit: (Warner Bros))
(Image credit: (Warner Bros))

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With In The Heights out in the world, comparisons to Hamilton are inevitable. For the past six years, we’ve attached Lin-Manuel Miranda’s name to the Broadway phenomenon that has far surpassed and overshadowed his original 2008 musical in popularity. While there are some common threads between the two, such as both being heavily influenced by hip-hop music, how might they have influenced each other?

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first musical is a more personal one that tells the story of his New York community in Washington Heights. Whereas with Hamilton, he adapted the Broadway sensation from a book about founding father Alexander Hamilton and his lesser-known life story in early American history. When Miranda was recently asked by NME what Hamilton fans need to know about the In The Heights movie, he said this:

Hamilton doesn’t exist without In the Heights. It was my coming-of-age graduate school. [Screenwriter] Quiara [Alegría Hudes] and I spent the better part of our twenties writing that show together, and I would put everything I learned on that to use in Hamilton, particularly in how hip-hop is an underused tool in theatre.

Watching In The Heights allows Hamilton fans to see where it all began musically and thematically for Lin-Manuel Miranda. And it’s true, without the success of In The Heights on Broadway, the skyrocketing success of Hamilton would have never spread from its beginnings off-Broadway to being the hottest ticket in town at NYC’s Richard Rodgers Theatre.

In The Heights uses his hip-hop storytelling but is matched with a Latin influence of Washington Heights. Hamilton definitely took the concept of a rap musical to another level and how it intertwined telling America’s story in a modern way was pure genius. At the end of the day, In The Heights is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first child and many of the things he learned making it sounds like it was integral to the creation of Hamilton.

In other words, In The Heights is a must-see for any Hamilton fan. It’s like falling in love with a singer’s album and then going back through their library. Except when it comes to In The Heights, we’re looking at Jon M. Chu’s translation of the material from the stage to the big screen. There were unfortunately eight songs from the original musical that were cut from the film, and there were some major changes made to the stage musical’s story.

And since In The Heights comes after Hamilton, there is an awesome Hamilton reference along with some other awesome details to look out for during the musical. In The Heights is playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, which you can sign up for using this link. And check out our interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda here on CinemaBlend!

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.