Broadway actor Javier Muñoz may have just gotten the best news of the increasingly frenetic Tony Awards run-up: Hamilton conceiver-author-composer-lyricist-star Lin-Manuel Miranda is planning to leave the show in July, possibly as soon as the 9th, leaving his understudy in line to get His Shot.
Muñoz is no newcomer to the show’s title role. Not only has he been playing Hamilton regularly on the days Miranda doesn’t take the stage, Sunday matinees, but Miranda — in a brilliant tactical move — had Muñoz perform when the First Family attended the show on Broadway. That made it pretty impossible for any mere mortals to complain about not seeing the star. Moreover, Muñoz has received glowing reviews, with several critics asserting that he’s a better pure musical-theater actor than Miranda, and that he brings a bit sharper edge to the role.
“It takes a little longer to warm to Mr. Muñoz’s more aggressive and angular Hamilton, who wields his ambition like a sword,” Ben Brantley wrote in a second New York Times review of the Broadway production. “But this interpretation does not upset the balance of a revolutionary show about a revolutionary era that seems better every time I see it. … In other words, should you be able to get seats for Hamilton only on a Sunday, you will not lose out.”
So any talk of a pre-July 9 run on the box office and subsequent damage from Miranda’s leaving, as suggested elsewhere, is nonsense on several accounts. The show, which took in an astonishing $1.9 million at the Richard Rodgers Theatre box office last week, already grosses upwards of 40% above its alleged potential, and it’s sold out to the tune of an $80 million advance. Win or lose the Tony for best performance by a leading actor in a musical on June 12 — one of three Tonys he’s up for among the Best Musical front-runner’s historic 16 nominations — Miranda’s departure should have zero impact at the box office.
News of an impending departure came out of a just-released Rolling Stone cover story on Miranda, in which he said that he’s likely to replicate the one-year stint he did in his last Broadway show, In The Heights; Hamilton began performances on Broadway last July following an extended sold-out run at the Public Theater and a break for revisions.
Miranda has a very full plate that includes a couple of major Disney commitments — the 3D animated Moana, for which he’s written the music, and his latest signing to appear with Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns as a sort of new generation version of Dick Van Dyke’s chimney sweep Bert from the 1964 original.
No response yet from Miranda or the show’s press agent regarding the details of his plans.