Lin-Manuel Does Double Header!

Lin-Manuel Does Double Header!

Above photo by Farah Stockman

On Sunday, October 16th, Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda held a screening of Mary Poppins at Washington Height’s United Palace Theatre.  He was back again on Monday, the 17th, for a special screening of a PBS documentary “Hamilton’s America,” at the landmark movie house. Built in 1930, United Palace is not only a New York City landmark, but holds a special place in Miranda’s heart as a native of Upper Manhattan. It also happens to be just across the street from Exodus, and it’s been great to see so much excitement and bustle in our neighborhood.

“This is a jewel box of a theater, especially with the death of the Ziegfeld Theatre,” Miranda exclusively told Billboard before stepping onstage to greet 2,500 guests awaiting him in the gilded theater’s plush red seats. “This is the last great movie house in Manhattan. We have an opportunity to make this a destination. It’s the most incredible theater. Anyone who walks in goes, ‘I had no idea this was here.’”

In the past, Miranda hosted a succession of “movie mash-ups” at the United Palace and even brought his critically acclaimed In the Heights musical to its stage for a five-year anniversary performance.

“I put my money where my mouth is — I went halfsies,” the “Hamilton” mastermind tells Billboard of revitalizing the New York landmark.

He has also donated $100,000 to the theater for a new DCP projection system that will achieve Hollywood-quality images for future showings. Miranda’s contribution to the “Reawaken Wonder at a Timeless Movie Palace” fundraising campaign aims to nurture and revive the venue, which also serves as a church and cultural center.

Lin-Manuel Miranda during the upgrading of the United Palace for cinema with a screening of the original Mary Poppins on Oct. 16, 2016 in New York City. 
Photo by Jeff Zorabedian-Lin-Manuel Miranda during the upgrading of the United Palace for cinema with a screening of the original Mary Poppins on Oct. 16, 2016 in New York City.

For Miranda, who uses his platform to highlight issues including the Puerto Rico financial crisis and this summer’s Pulse Orlando nightclub shooting, the generous donation was a no-brainer. “I thought, ‘How are we not showing movies here?’”

The screening of the original 1964 Mary Poppins was an apt choice since Miranda will begin shooting Disney’s musical Mary Poppins Returns in London later this month. His character, a lamplighter named Jack, will be an interpretation of the classic Dick Van Dyke in the reimagined, 20-years-later Disney sequel directed and produced by Rob Marshall (Pirates of the Caribbean). Slated for a 2018 release, Miranda will co-star with Emily Blunt in the role made famous by Julie Andrews.

This past Monday night, Miranda returned to the Palace Theater for a screening of a new Great Performances documentary, Hamilton’s America, a documentary that brings history to vivid life through the lens of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pop culture Broadway phenomenon Hamilton.

The story of Alexander Hamilton is most remembered for its dramatic conclusion, which saw Hamilton killed in a duel by Vice President Aaron Burr. But the full story of this political genius – a poor immigrant who built himself up from nothing to become one of the nation’s most vital architects – has largely been forgotten by history…until now.

And, of course, as a presence in Washington Heights for 25 years, just behind this wonderful theater, everyone at Exodus is proud to see the ‘hood well represented.  Great Performances’ “Hamilton’s America,” began airing on PBS on October 21st.

Parts of this article were originally published on Billboard.com and at http://www.pbs.org

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