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Lin-Manuel Miranda
AP Photo/Danica Coto
Soon to be Under the Sea.
THE STUDIO WHERE IT HAPPENS

Lin-Manuel Miranda is Disney’s new songwriter-in-chief

By Adam Epstein

When music genius and PEGOT hopeful Lin-Manuel Miranda left the title role in his Broadway musical Hamilton, everyone was wondering what he’d do next. Create another hit musical? Release an album of hip-hop covers of the Great American Songbook? Develop an award-winning HBO miniseries about the life and times of the Marquis de Lafayette? No, none of these things (though they all sound terrific). Instead, Miranda has taken his talents to Disney, where he’s turning into the studio’s de facto chief songwriter.

Disney is making a live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, and Miranda will co-write the music with legendary composer and Disney regular Alan Menken, Deadline reported. (Menken composed the music to the original Mermaid, along with AladdinBeauty and the Beast, and countless other Mouse House classics.) Miranda also will produce and supervise the story.

This marks Miranda’s fourth, and biggest, collaboration with Disney. He co-wrote the music for the upcoming animated film Moana, the first Disney movie to feature a Polynesian princess. And he’s set to star opposite Emily Blunt in the studio’s sequel to Marry Poppins.

He even helped director J.J. Abrams write the music for the cantina scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney’s crown jewel. Miranda met Abrams during the intermission of a Hamilton performance and jokingly offered to write a new cantina song, should there be one in Abrams’ movie. There was, and Abrams took Miranda up on the offer. The two collaborated on the song, sending a music file back and forth.

While The Little Mermaid will only be Miranda’s second stint as a Disney songwriter, it’s unlikely to be his last. Disney is making live-action adaptations of virtually all of its famous cartoons, to go along with its bevy of planned sequels, reboots, and original animated movies. Miranda’s services will no doubt be needed again. Perhaps the studio even sees a bit of Menken in him. (Fun fact: Miranda graduated from the same New York City high school as Robert Lopez, half the songwriting team behind “Let It Go,” the Oscar- and Grammy-winning hit from Disney’s 2013 animated film Frozen.)

There’s no indication that Miranda, who’s a Disney super-fan, would balk at the opportunity to work on more Disney properties. Last month, Miranda took over Disney Animation’s Instagram, singing songs from Aladdin, Mulan, and, of course, The Little Mermaid. And Miranda’s son, Sebastian, was named in part after the talking red crab from the film that he will now help bring back to the big screen.