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  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!


On the road with Sonny Charles, learning to dance, and much more

When I was in The Los Angeles cast of “HAIR”, I was in a terrible car accident on my way to Las Vegas to surprise my mom for her birthday.I was leaving Baker, California, and the wind was really kicking up badly. My boyfriend Tony Good was getting tired and I said I would take the wheel.

Tony was the manager of North Beach Leather on Sunset Blvd., and we were together for about a year.  We had a very small English car, right hand drive, and the wind really blew it around.

I vaguely remember losing control of the steering wheel, and waking Tony with my screaming. We were off the highway, on the sand, spinning around and skidding at a very high speed. That is the last thing I remember  before waking up four days later at UMC Hospital in Las Vegas. I had been in a coma.

My leg was broken in three places, my ribs and lungs collapsed. I had a neck brace on and a lot of cactus in my limbs. Tony had shoulder and arm injuries, but wasn’t as injured as me. A passing truck driver had spotted our upside down car off a reveene with the headlights still on, he pulled over and started looking for people. He called 911 and we were transported to Vegas.

Tony was on a different floor, and they wheel-chaired him to see me. He told me that at that same night our best friend Frank had died of an overdose. He was devastated. Frankie owned Head East Jeans on Sunset and La Cienega, Tony had manged that until North Beach Leather grabbed him away.

Many of my Hair buddies came to Vegas,to see us.Teddy Neeley, being one, he was so sweet  to do that. Tony’s other  friend Cliff who lived with Frankie, moved in with us when we returned to Los Angeles. We had a beautiful little house in the Hollywood Bowl hills and it had about a hundred stairs, so we had to find a new house.

Tony went home while I recouped at mom and dad’s in Vegas. He found a great house in Nichols Canyon in a cul de sac with a stream running through it. he did all the moving and I never saw the Hollywood Bowl house again.

I had a lot of recouperating to do. HAIR was closing, they let me do the last show on crutches and sing “Frank MIlls”. Everyone either went on to “Jesus Christ Superstar” or the Mercury Tour of HAIR. I lived in that house on the mountain, on disability.

In time, everything was spiraling, and Cliff died of an overdose. Then his girfiriend killed herself over his death. It was a time when I started acting classes. I was with Justin Smith right there on Santa Monica and La Cienega. I loved classes. In my class was Michelle Phillips, and Helen Reddy.

It started to distance me from Tony though. We hung in there for another year. We became close to former “Berger” In HAIRRed Shepard, and his girlfriend Karalee Phillips. They had a rented mansion with an elevator and huge kitchen where we would throw a lot a parties. Keith Carradine, and a lot of actors of that generation were at the parties. Red had started Revolution Records with Michael Butlers help. I sang on a lot of the sessions.Keeping up with the likes of Clydie King and others was a challenge.

On a trip to Vegas to see my family, I stopped into Gus Gallo’s, a local club with live music. I sang with the band, and Sonny Charles of the Checkmates asked for my number. Sweet Louie, Sonny’s bandmate, was in prison at the time. Sonny was traveling alone with a band.

Shortly after that, Sonny called from Fort Wayne, Indiana, could I come right away and be a back up singer with his niece Regina Warfield. Tony and I were done by then, and off I flew to a wonderful adventure.

When I got there, I found out the drummer, Billy ,was a student of daddy’s.  Every night after a show, Regina and I were off to Sonny’s room for dance class. How fun was that?

Also, the golf courses were a big part of Sonny’s road life.I would caddy for him a lot, and learned the game. The shows were fun, exciting, and always brilliant.  One night Sonny asked me to his room and we talked and spent a lot of hours together. we got very close and I have always cherished my one night with him. After a few months on the road, I got close to the bass player, Jim Strauss.

Jim was a tall, skinny, Jesus look-a-like! He was from Los Angeles. and his girlfriend at home was on a big billboard all over the city as the bikini’d babe on the Coppertone ad. Then she appeared in a clothing pictorial for men’s clothes in Playboy magazine. I had a huge crush on him but knew I wasn’t in his league. Well, he returned my crush and we began a relationship.

Despite his girfriend Peggy! Shame on me,, I was young and that was not right. Peggy was so nice, she let us stay at her house when we got to Los Angeles. AWKWARD! when she was out of the house, the anwswering machine for her was ringing with calls from Warren Beatty! She was going to be fine!

Jim and I got our own place in Hollywood, near Sunset and starting keeping house. Sonny stopped touring, and I found a job with a band called “The Sunshine Company” I was now on the road and Jim stayed in Los Angeles.

Let me teach you something that took me a long time to figure out. When a guy cheats on his girlfriend with you, he will also do it to you. He did and I learned the hard way, life lessons.

My one night with Sonny was always a bright spot on my heart and I have never talked about it. It was just a moment and something that seemed right and that is all it was. I remember his mama’s cornbread, sweet potato pie, and those lovely visits to Fort Wayne. I remember the whole band seeing “Play Misty For Me” together one afternoon.  I remember when Sonny played the Hammond B3 and sang “Your Song” and gave me chills every night.

Now he is with the Steve Miller band. and what a thrill for people to still see and hear this great performer. Try not to miss them if you get a chance. This was one of my greatest memories of the business and my youth. I am one lucky girl!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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