Entertainment

Robert Rakete interviews his musical idol Lin-Mauel Miranda

Radio star Robert Rakete meets his all-time musical idol

As co-host for The Breeze Auckland Breakfast show, it’s fair to say that I’ve been lucky enough to interview some of the world’s most famous musicians, but what some of you may not know is that I LOVE musicals. In fact, I even appeared in one! Just the one. There have been no calls since, however, I am available – call 0800breeze.

From Les Misérables to Starlight Express, The Wizard of Oz to Mamma Mia!, I’ve seen them all (and more). So, when my daughter Bella introduced the whānau to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, we were hooked. It’s easily one of my favourite productions and recently I was invited to Brisbane to see it before it comes to Aotearoa from May 26.

Robert has passed on his love of musicals to daughter Bella.

You will absolutely love the show – it’s an incredible must-see experience. Plus, I was also given the mind- blowing privilege of having a face to face chat with the man behind the magic, the Tony, Grammy, Emmy, Olivier and Pulitzer Prize-winning Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Here’s my chat with my new best friend Lin.

“Shall I sing for you?!” A starstruck Robert in the studio with Lin.

When you came to the theatre last night, the crowd went crazy. It must be very humbling. What is life like as Lin-Manuel Miranda for you?

In my neighbourhood, I’m like the village idiot. People are so used to seeing me around with my headphones on and my dog that I’m pretty much left alone. You have to understand that coming here is like an enormous outlier – this is not everyday life. In my everyday life, I am up at six and trying to get my kids off to school, then I’ve gotta be home by three as my wife [Vanessa] is a lawyer. She works all day, so I’m a house husband, just writing as much as I can in between the hours that my kids are at school. So, this is like a fantastic vacation for me.

You’ve created this musical where people who are not from America can connect with those stories and those rhymes on stage. It must be so rewarding for you.

The great thing art does is give us empathy with people we thought we’d never meet halfway around the world. When I was writing How Far I’ll Go for Moana, I didn’t grow up in the Pacific Islands, and yet I do know what it’s like to both love my neighbourhood and love my family, and consider life beyond it, and think, “I want to do this”, and “I must get out of here and there’s got to be more than what’s right here in front of me”. And so the identification doesn’t come with generality, it comes

with specificity!

And it’s a universal story, right? We all want to love and be loved.

Exactly.

Encanto, Mary Poppins, In the Heights… when you decide what you want to work on, what are the filters that you go through before you pick up a project?

Hamilton changed my direction in a really fundamental way. We had the thing you can’t buy – everyone that saw the show went and told everyone they knew about the show. And there’s no faking that; there’s no ad campaign that can get you that, that’s just what happened. And there was a moment when my wife and I looked at each other and went, “We don’t ever have

to take jobs just to pay the rent any more and the kids are going to be okay, so now what is our criteria?” When you come from not having a lot of money, that’s the mentality so much!

Kiwi Matu Ngaropo as George Washington with the original

Australian cast of Hamilton.

Now what I choose to work on is the stuff that’s inside me that won’t leave me alone. I think we have stories that we just carry around and are dying to tell. Some of those are ancestral stories, some of those are family stories and some of those are just your own stories. And then there are things that I just feel like I’m going to learn from. I’m writing a musical with John Kander right now and I’m writing lyrics for the guy who wrote Chicago, and he’s still at the top of his game at 95 years old, so I’m going to learn from that experience! So that meaning becomes the biggest factor in whether to say yes to something.

To check out the full video interview with Lin and Robert, go to thebreeze.co.nz. Hamilton’s New Zealand run kicks off in Auckland on May 26 at Spark Arena for a strictly limited season. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster.

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