History Has Its Eyes On Lin Manuel


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VEGA ALTA, PUERTO RICO – NOVEMBER 07: Lin-Manuel Miranda delivers food to victims of Hurricane Maria at La Placita de Guisin on November 7, 2017 in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Gladys Vega/Getty Images)

Avery Campbell, Media Co-Editor

Lin Manuel Miranda is an American composer, lyricist, playwright, singer, and actor known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals In the Heights and Hamilton. Hamilton is a sung-and-rapped through musical about the life of American Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics and book by Miranda. It has taken the world by storm all the way to Vega Alta, Puerto Rico.

The road to Vega Alta is lined with Miranda. Literally. Just next to the welcome sign is a billboard with a large picture of the Hamilton creator and the hashtag, #YoSoyVegaAlta, meaning “I am Vega Alta.” This is the town where his father is from and where he and his sister spent summers as children. It is also a community that has seen better days, challenged by poverty and crime.

Now, at the heart of the neighborhood, in an area that was once a disco called the Pink Panther, is now called La Placita de Güisin, an arcade built by Lin Manuel’s father, Luis Miranda, who moved to New York at a young age but never stopped visiting. It includes a bakery, a barista and a cafe, along with a gift shop selling Lin-Manuel Miranda merchandise.

Lin Manuel, prepared to reclaim the title role of “Alexander Hamilton” for a three-week run that began in San Juan on Jan. 11. He arrived in Vega Alta one Tuesday night this fall like the celebrity he has become. They went to where the people were celebrating local arts organizations. The family is assisting as part of their patriotic efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which slammed into Puerto Rico last year.

“He is worldwide famous, but he cares about his people, he cares about his country, he cares about Puerto Rico. He doesn’t forget about us,” said Alejandro García Padilla, former governor of Puerto Rico, who is a proud fan.

Miranda helped bring the limited production of his hit musical to San Juan as a fundraiser for the Flamboyan Arts Fund, a foundation run by his family to support the arts in Puerto Rico. However, he is hoping that in addition to raising money, the production will bring more attention to the island’s growing recovery, its attraction as a destination, and the effective contribution made by tourism funds spent here. A quarter of tickets are available for $10, but prices range up to $5,000.

“People are going to come to Puerto Rico because of Hamilton, and hopefully spend a lot of money here in small businesses on the island,” Miranda said at a press conference right after Hamilton’s first performance. “But they’re also going to see how much work is left to be done.”