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Lin-Manuel Miranda takes 'Merrily' to new heights

Celia Keenan-Bloger, left, Colin Donnell, center, and Lin-Manuel

Celia Keenan-Bloger, left, Colin Donnell, center, and Lin-Manuel Miranda sttar in "Merrily We Roll Along." Credit: Celia Keenan-Bloger, left, Colin Donnell, center, and Lin-Manuel Miranda sttar in "Merrily.'

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who starred in and wrote the score for the hit Broadway musical "In the Heights," returns to the stage this week in the highly anticipated City Center Encores! production of Stephen Sondheim's cult 1981 musical "Merrily We Roll Along."

The musical explores the lives and careers of three close friends while moving backward in time.

Although it lasted just nine performances on Broadway, it has since developed an extremely devoted following and received countless regional revivals.

What's it like doing your first Encores! show? You know the drill: It's like being shot out of a cannon. We have only 12 days or so of rehearsal. It creates both pressure and excitement.

How did you get cast? When they made the initial announcement, they hadn't cast [the role of] Charlie yet, and I thought, "Gosh, who's gonna get to play it?" Someone floated my name, and I was asked to audition. I was in L.A. at the time, so I put myself on tape singing "Good Thing Going."

What attracted you to the show? First of all, getting to play a lyricist is unreal. The score is beloved by all Sondheim-ites - I include myself in that group. It's ingenious in the way it's built. Sondheim is writing about the world of New York theater. It comes from a place of deep love and knowledge.

Have you seen it performed before? I saw it for the first time recently at Hunter High School, where I went to school. It was a very emotional experience for me to see kids singing "Our Time" on our stage - I figured out who I was by doing the annual musical there. I bounced around different cliques till I found theater.

Do you feel you're at the right age to play Charlie? Absolutely. I'm still very connected to the youth and idealism of trying to get into this business and get a show on. But I've also seen the other side of it. I'm sort of in the sweet spot.

If you go: "Merrily We Roll Along" plays at City Center through Feb. 19. 130 W. 56th St., 212-581-1212,


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