Lin-Manuel Miranda explains removal of Trump reference from In The Heights

·3-min read

Lin-Manuel Miranda has explained why he removed a reference to Donald Trump from the song 96,000 in his new film In The Heights.

The original Broadway stage show, which won the 2008 Tony award for best musical, features a song in which the characters fantasise about how they would spend lottery winnings.

The original lyric referred to “Donald Trump and I on the links”, but the film includes an updated lyric saying: “Tiger Woods and I on the links.”

Miranda, who wrote the songs for In The Heights before he penned the smash hit hip hop musical Hamilton, told the PA news agency: “That one that you really can’t chalk up to me, the culture changed that lyric.

“When I wrote that lyric in 2005, he was a famous reality TV host and before that he was just sort of a live-action monopoly man.

“My parents had a Trump board game in the 80s.

“He kind of put his name on everything with gold on it, and so when time makes a fool of the lyric and we’re in the middle of this joyous aspirational number, that name rings like a discordant bell, it’s like a clang.

“So school groups were already asking to change that lyric as far back as 2016 – we just ratified it for the movie.

US Election 2020
A reference to the former US president has been cut (Niall Carson/PA)

“But it’s like the way when Sarah Palin was announced as the VP pick, everyone was like ‘Tina Fey’s got to play her on Saturday Night Live’, we all just kind of collectively decided this needed to happen. The same thing happened with that lyric.”

The film’s screenwriter Quiara Alegria Hudes, who also wrote the book of the musical, said: “In 2019 when we filmed it, Benny’s not going to choose to go golfing with Trump.”

The show is set in the diverse Latin community in New York’s Washington Heights and the film features a raft of Latinx stars, including Anthony Ramos, Jimmy Smits and Stephanie Beatriz.

In making the move to the big screen, the writers took the opportunity to address contemporary anti-immigrant sentiment and the bid to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the US policy that protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented youths from deportation.

Hudes said: “I think in the contemporary moment, people are also talking about immigration in a very new and active way and you hear that more presently; that’s always been part of the conversation in the community and the concern in the community for decades.

“But the fever pitch that that had arrived at had to be incorporated, it would have actually been a blind spot not to (include it). It’s just responding still – this community is still here, it’s not frozen in time, it’s still very vibrant and active.”

In The Heights is released in UK cinemas on June 18.

Hamilton returns to the Victoria Palace Theatre from August 19.

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