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Why Moana's secret weapon is Broadway sensation Lin-Manuel Miranda


Lin-Manuel Miranda is pretty hot on the scene right now. You may have heard of him already, but if you haven’t here’s a little summary of the guy who helped write and produce the music in Disney’s 53rd animated classic Moana.

Miranda is a writer, rapper, music composer, actor and all-round talented man. At only 36, he’s got his foot in almost every door from music, to acting, to Broadway and probably much more in the future. His recent and biggest hit was writing and performing in the award-winning hit Broadway show Hamilton, based on the life of one of the founding fathers of America, Alexander Hamilton.

It’s not the typical historic Broadway show either: the music is soul, RnB, jazz and rap, and the cast are predominately people of colour, making the very old and unknown story of fresh and fitting for a 21st century audience.

Along with another Broadway hit In The Heights and various stints in TV and film, it was only a matter of time before Miranda's talents were snapped up by Disney. We've  already heard his music in a Disney-owned movie, during the Cantina scene in last year's Star Wars The Force Awakens, after J.J. Abrams personally asked Miranda to write some music for the film. But now, he’s working with the animated classics and bringing music to our ears with Moana.

Here are some of the extremely exciting reasons why Lin-Manuel Miranda will be upping Disney’s game with Moana.

He's a Disney fanboy

Miranda first performed a few of his Hamilton songs to President Obama back in 2009 and was met with applause and a few laughs at the concept of rap music depicting American history. Years later the determination has paid off with the show being one of the biggest in history. Tickets are hard to get hold of; thankfully you don't have to go far to experience Moana in your Cineworld.

Miranda has admitted that he is a massive fan of Disney and has been since he was young. His 2 year old son is called Sebastian, named after the little red crab from The Little Mermaid. Who’d have thought that he would one day be working for Disney?

On his Twitter page Miranda has shared his excitement at seeing a Moana toy sing a song he has written, as well as a video of his son watching the film's trailer. It’s nice to see someone who is still down to earth, despite the huge success and celebrity level popularity.

He's captured the essence of Hawaii

What makes Moana stand out among Disney films is that it's a celebration of Hawaii, from the people and the culture to the location and the music.

To capture the essence of the country Miranda, along with the other music writers Opetaia Foa’I and Mark Mancina, travelled there in order to gain a better understanding of the culture. Miranda says that they "drew upon the pacific islands rich musical culture" when creating Moana’s music.

Not only will this mean that the soundtrack will have some awesome tracks that we are bound to sing along to Disney karaoke style; the music will actually represent Hawaii and its people. Therefore it will be authentic and not just a few catchy songs to keep families entertained, but the musical journey throughout Moana will provide an insight into this beautiful place.

His talents are endless!

Mr. Lin-Manuel not only writes music, but acts, sings, raps, plays instruments, writes scripts and books! Fingers crossed his multifaceted talents as an artist, father and husband will invest the film's soundtrack with further warmth and invention.

But he's still unbelievably modest

When it came to the Moana song 'We Know The Way' (which can be heard in the trailer and a sneak peek clip from the film below), Miranda very generously credited his music partners and deferred to them, saying: "Opetaia & I [Miranda] singing together, he in his language, I in mine. I was just supposed to be the demo vocal but they kept me". How nice is that?

He's Mr. Entertainment!

Miranda lives for popular culture. This passion shines through in his work, making it clear that the work he does for Moana will be his best because he’s not only enjoying it from a creative perspective but also a fan's one, too.

As proof, just check out this video in which Miranda visibly geeks out sitting at the piano next to Disney music legend Alan Menken (legendary Oscar-winning composer of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and countless other classics).

The awards guys love him

Lin-Manuel is one of a small list of people in the entertainment business who is close to being/having/winning an EGOT (no, this isn’t an insult).

EGOT stands for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony and only 12 people have won all four. Miranda is only one away, having already earned a few Tonys, an Emmy and two Grammys. On top of this, he’s won a Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur "Genius" Award, so people seem to really love the guy. At 36 and with many upcoming projects, Miranda isn’t leaving the business soon, so there’s still time for him to round off the EGOT.

He's reuniting with Disney again!

Disney just can’t seem to let go of Miranda. After Moana, he's not only helping Alan Menken with the music for Disney’s live-action retelling of The Little Mermaid but we are going to see him acting as Jack in the Mary Poppins sequel Mary Poppins Returns. We can’t wait to see where this talented man goes with Disney.

Don't miss this music legend's contribution to Moana, released in Cineworld on 2nd December. Tweet us your own favourite Lin-Manuel Miranda moments @Cineworld.

Nadine Shambrook is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.