The Making Of Hamilton

IT took  six years  for Lin-Manuel Miranda . to write ‘HAMILTON’

Originally, it was to become a Mixed Tape,,,,However, Fate intervened..

MIRANDA  was reading Ron Chernov’s biography of Hamilton. while on vacation.in  St. Croix

Before he left  for his vacation he bought the book on the Life of Hamilton, and the Death of him.,, later saying,’ IT COULD HAVE BEEN TRUMAN‘  luckily , for theater and history buffs everywhere it wasn’t.  We are very glad he picked up that BOOK>

Hamilton  starts writing a poem about the hurricane that destroys ST CROIX, where he  is living.

He writes about the carnage, and this poem gets him off the island. This is how MIRANDA understood the circumstances that made it  hip hop and music. It had to be rapped and sung. The subject was so dark, its had to be spoken and sung,,,he had no doubt about that.   He had written only one song in one year, when PRESIDENT OBAMA in 2009, asked him to perform at the White House.

PRESIDENT OBAMA told him, after hearing the song, ‘ALEXANDER HAMILTON ‘ the theme song, ‘ I won’t forget to remind you that at  the White House,,,,’THIS IS WHERE IT ALL BEGAN!’

After the WHITE HOUSE PERFORMANCE , it took him another year to write the second song. He walked and walked , rode the subway, that is how he came up with the the lyrics..He wrote one song at a party,, another while riding the subway.

It started as a mix tape and not a musical.  MIRANDA has to be ambulatory to write lyrics. On the move,, on trains, and walking through the New York streets. He began within thinking it would be a concept album, it was easier to think of honoring his favorite hip hop artists. He thought of them when writing.

MIRANDA  then performed from the MIXTAPE at LINCOLN CENTERS AMERICAN SONGBOOK , it started to come together.. He picked up the THE  HEARTBREAK OF AARON BURR, also ‘AFFAIRS OF HONOR, to nail the dueling rules.

In 2014 the  show began at the PUBLIC THEATRE.  MIRANDA AND DIRECTOR THOMAS KAIL went to WEEHAWKEN New Jersey, the grounds where BURR SHOT HAMILTON.  The actual grounds are covered with train tracks now, but there is a small memorial.

MIRANDA really studied other musicals, such as Jesus Christ SUPERSTAR  and  LES MISERABLE.  This taught him where and when to re-introduce a theme. MIRANDA. knew the best way to this was to stick  to the facts as much as possible.  That is why  CHERNOV,  whose novel inspired this  project became historian of the show.

CHERNOV looked at every draft and every song for accuracy.

 

MIRANDA stole a line from. the musical South Pacific, ‘I’M WITH YOU BUT THE SITUATION IS FRAUGHT, YOU’VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT’.  in the song ‘MY SHOT’

MIRANDA  cast the show very diverse to make it look like AMERICA looks… Real and mixed.

After this huge success of the show, MIRANDA is actually making his MIXTAPE, This tape will be available this year. It includes a new song not in the Broadway show.

On a personal chapter now, I was working for a short time here in Las Vegas, at the PALAZZO   HOTEL in 2016 to help the OUT OF STATE   singers deal with the dryness and stamina of singing and running and  dancing,  to get the show ‘ BAZ ‘ up and going , which is a Fantastic Mash Up of Baz Lurhmans movie themes of the classics, when it was taking a long  time in rehearsal.   It  was volunteer only, as it was an EQUITY show, you can’t force singers to take time out of thier personal time to work…. it seemed only the real PROS were signing up. The lead singer playing , DAISY, WAS THE BRILLIANT JOANNA  ALEXIS JONES. YOU COULD HEAR A PIN DROP WHEN SHE SANG.  Here was the best singer I had heard to sign up to meet me??   I had to just tell her she was spot on, and would not have any problems, doing anything , anywhere!

This showed me, that real serious singers , from BERKLEE AND BOSTON CONSERVATORY are the real troupers who even as great as they were, are willing to learn something new.  Sadly, this was before I was taking lessons myself on VOCAL HEALTH  by a LARYNOLOGIST and SPEECH PATHOLOGIST, who I still work with , ERIK LANDRY, DR. JONATHAN SALINAS.  This new information I know know, would be quite beneficial to anyone singing, dancing ,and running while singing!!!

I have learned so much I wish I had known then,.,,, I cannot learn enough and my hunger for this knowledge is never fulfilled,,,, More More More!!!!  So, How does this tie in with HAMILTON. ,JOANNA ALEXIS JONES,,,IS PLAYING    PEGGY AND MARIA,   which requires a MEZZO SOPRANO.  She looks absolutely gorgeous which she is, she is sweet, down to earth and the nicest person.    When she went back to L A she was cast   in the tv production of HAIRSPRAY, and not long after was packing to re locate to New York, for this historic show.

I find it very similar to myself, when I got into a Broadway show six months after it opened,, I was cast in the rock musical HAIR when I was 17.   I found it so life changing..  The similarity was , that after going in after the original cast, you  miss out on the original cast recording,,the pictures of the exciting opening night, and all the T V appearances.. It is like being Prom queen but missing the Prom…. But the excitement of coming and going into the backstage, where fans want you autograph and they want to just touch you, and be next to you, because the life you are living, is their dream too.  WE are living the DREAM… I follow JOANNA on INSTAGRAM  watch her videos, of that amazing voice!

The moral of this story, is, audition for everything you can. You never know if it will be a huge historic hit!  HAMILTON AND HAIR are two the most historical musicals ever.  HAIR being the very first Rock musical with a political message and nude scene. Hamilton   a Rap and sung musical, also Politically charged. With my years  in HAIR I got to have lifelong friends who I still am close to. It is an experience only those who were with the shows can know.

I’m so excited for JOANNA’S career. She has prepared with great trining, and many performances where she got great reviews. .  Be prepared , Study, Be a triple threat, when you audition let them know you are Ready!   They can tell, they know what they are looking for.   Good Luck if you are on this journey, I am still remembered for Being in HAIR, and that will never change.  Musicals come and go,,, they are infamous, but only a few make history, so these are important shows everyone should be interested in.

LALA LAND was a good musical,, but the cast were  actors and so so singers,,,, most musical do not require huge talent in voice,,, a good actor can put a message across… I truly feel Gosling  and Stone did a great job,,, passable dancing  but the art great acting made me love them.         

I believe HAMILTON will be around a very long time,, and I also Believe JOANNA ALEXIS JONES WILL BE AROUND AS WELL, good Luck JOANNA,  and to all future Broadway actors!

 

Working singer since 12, no time for the prom at 17.

In 1964, The Beatles came to America, Capitol Records, my record label was also the distributor. Capitol Records, suddenly distracted by The Beatles, left me, and other artists, high and dry. I lost all my clout with the label and was washed up at 14.

Shortly thereafter, my dad was with Juliet Prowse as her drummer and was seeing Las Vegas as his future.  Against the family’s wishes we all moved to Las Vegas and I had to re-invent myself.

Dennis Hunt a DJ with KENO radio had been playing my record, Johnny Let me Go“, and frequently had me appear on his show. I opened a concert for Johnny Crawford of The Rifleman TV show, who had a big hit, “Cindy’s Birthday”. this was my first big concert at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

I was in Valley High School, and there were tons of local bands in town. The  Scatter Blues, The Weeds, The Present Tense, Nobody’s Children, Sioux Uprising, The Teenbeats, Kentucky Blue Grass, Loadstone, Later, Kharisma,with John Sterling, Terry Ryan, Jay Mitthauer. Same band, few changes. and the band that I joined, The Little People.

 

The Little People were, Mike Lyman, Mike Friedman, Glenn Cooper, Steve Harvey, Howard Salstein, and myself. We were very popular and appeared on the Jerry Lewis Telethon. Mike Friedman”s father Maurice Friedman was a mob-connected hotel man. The Frontier Hotel. Mike was a spoiled and complex kid. Naturally, I was drawn to him…. What was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking, that was the problem. His parents were always out, and he had a nanny that let us all do anything and everything around his golf course home.

We evolved into a better group called  London Fog. That was Bob Lilly, and Glenn Cooper, Mike Lyman, and Mike Friedman and myself.  We worked the Teen Beat Club, and shopping centers, local parties and even a Hotel in Searchlight.

Free Circus

Free Circus

I outgrew my high school musicians soon, and was solicited by  a college band, The Free Circus. Roby Bennet, Bob Byornsen, and Danny Barnett. This was a great band. We covered Stevie Winwood, Cream, and a lot of originals. With this band we got a manager, Jennifer Joseph, and opened for  Santana, Grateful Dead, Iron Butterfly, SteppenwolfThree Dog Night, Blue Cheer Sweetwater, and virtually every headliner who came through town. We even spent a summer in Lake Tahoe, and opened for Steppenwolf, again.

I  distanced myself from Mike Friedman at this time, and started seeing John Sterling, who I met through drummer Jay Mitthauer, {Jaybird}  He was taking drum lessons from my dad. John was in Loadstone and a little older, 24,  My parents were thrilled about this, I’m sure!

But shortly after we began, the band Loadstone became Andy Williams featured band on his TV show, and they were slowly transitioning to Los Angeles.  I made a few weekend trips to see Sterling before we drifted apart.

On one of these trips, we were at A&M studios, they were recording and I ran into my idol, Lani Hall. I had always wanted to be in Sergio Mendes & Brazil 66!!! Just seeing her in the restroom of A&M was thrilling.

Las Vegas Convention Center

Las Vegas Convention Center

Meanwhile, my band, The Free Circus, was getting close to a recording opportunity when our pianist Danny was drafted to  go to Vietnam. He was still in boot camp, when on a  trip to visit him, his parents and brother were hit by a drunk driver and his mother was instantly killed. He got a grief discharge, but we were broken up by then. Danny’s  mother was a beautiful woman and it was so sad.  His dad moved to Morrow Bay and lived on a yacht with the settlement money.

My sister met an agent Bill Loeb, he met with me, flew me to Los Angeles, and my first audition was HAIR. I was blessed! But back to Free Circus. We were close, I loved these guys, Bob had cancer in the 80’s and passed away, but Roby and Danny and I are going to be inducted into the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as Little People and London Fog.

 

Actual London Fog

Actual London Fog

Mike Friedman died of cancer as well and I was reunited with him at the end. He had nothing left, having snorted his money away and estranged from his sister, who told me, I don’t even care , don’t call me when he dies. I found a place for Mike to stay while he was sick, my dear friend Rene had been letting him live with her but it was going on way too long. She needed help. He abused my friends apartment with beer bottles and cigarettes, and I too, had to ask him to leave. He went back to Rene’s and died.

But I will add that when I was with Free Circus, I did no drugs. No drinking, I was really a serious singer…unlike my London Fog days, when I was a bit messed up and not very mature.

All this led to who I am today, and shaped my values as a singer. Take care of yourself and be on time! My life has been crazy and wonderful, but I wouldn’t trade anything I did. Even missing my prom!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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