Watch this space for the latest from GWD HQ, and keep your FOMO to a BM (that means Bare Minimum).

Only in New York

Published September 28, 2022

This week’s Video Rewind takes you on a video round journey called “Only in New York!” Our quizzers had to name movies featuring scenes of happenings that could only go down in the Big Apple. We’re talking people ordering lunch, petty cash discussions, business card handouts. You know, stuff that DOESN’T HAPPEN ANYWHERE ELSE. It does feature a scene from “tick, tick…BOOM!,” but NOT that amazing diner scene. That actually could only happen in New York. Let’s learn a bit more how that went down.

If you love Broadway, then you’ll love “tick, tick…BOOM!,” for all kinds of reasons. Director Lin-Manuel Miranda’s meta-adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical recounts Larson’s struggle to finish his own Sondheim-worthy show while juggling shifts at a New York City diner. (In real life, Larson reached legendary status with “Rent,” but he died the day before its first preview performance.) 

ANYWAY, the hands-down highlight of the film is the musical number “Sunday,” which takes place in the Moondance Diner and brings more than a dozen Broadway stars together onscreen. The list of cameos is pretty incredible, and it includes Andre De Shields, Joel Grey, Bebe Neuwirth, Bernadette Peters, Phylicia Rashad, Chita Rivera and  — of course — Lin-Manuel Miranda himself. 

“You know those posters where Amy Winehouse is eating with Elvis and Marilyn Monroe? I wanted it to be like that — musical theater legends unbound by time starting with the folks that are absolutely heroes to Jonathan Larson,” Miranda explained to EW. “We’re kind of this musical theater, Edward Hopper Nighthawks sequence where everyone gets to be there because it’s this dream […] It’s just this galaxy brain ecstasy. The whole thinking was the biggest, most beautiful version of it possible.” 

The already epic undertaking of filming the musical number was further complicated by the covid pandemic. “Not all those actors could be in the same shot at the same time, so tiling it in was a human numbers game, like chess or something,” cinematographer Alice Brooks told Indiewire

“We placed the legends in different positions, trying to figure out the least amount of timing shots possible because they’d be more than six feet apart. Then Lin and I had to start figuring out how to keep that lyricism without being able to really move the camera.” (And extra precautions had to be taken for some members of the cast, like 89-year-old Joel Grey. “I’m not getting Joel Grey sick,” Miranda told EW. “That’s not going to be on my conscience.”) 

Despite the complications, Miranda — and the entire talented cast – pulled it off. Now check out the round!

Featured image courtesy of: FLC001, Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication