A Green Dress, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Understanding the Delicate Formula of the Movie Musical

I want to talk about the delicacy of the movie musical. And, how it’s not often that somebody has a grasp on both stage musicals and movie musicals, simultaneously.

Earlier this week, a much anticipated deleted scene from Tick, Tick…BOOM! was released.

Fans of the film finally got to see the much-talked about sequence, which had required an awful lot of choreography on the parts of Andrew Garfield and Alexandra Shipp. That’s what made it even more unusual that the scene had been cut from the final film. When asked why, Lin-Manuel Miranda said something to the effect of needing to get from point A to point B quicker. And, after I watched the scene it’s very clear: Miranda proves that he has an understanding of movie musicals versus stage musicals that many directors simply do not have. At the same exact time, this scene, self-contained, shows how well he understands translating musicals from stage to screen.

“Green Green Dress” is dance heavy for Shipp and Garfield, but there’s another dancer in the scene: the camera. It is absolutely the third dance partner in this sequence. The camera moves just as much, if not more, as the two performers do. It weaves and dips throughout the scene, beautifully in sync with the music, making the scene that much more interesting to watch. A dance scene that could have easily been filmed stagnant becomes that much more captivating because of the thoughtfulness that went into the camera’s movements.

Cutting this song impacts Alexandra Shipp’s character, Susan, the most because, with the exclusion of this song, the first time we hear Susan herself sing (not just her Vanessa Hudgens counterpart) is in the song “Come to Your Senses”. To have that song be the first time we see and hear her sing, and to have her singing these words:

You’re on the air
I’m underground
Signals fading
Can’t be found
I finally open up
For you, I would do anything
But you’ve turned off the volume
Just when I’ve begun to sing

It makes this moment so much more impactful.

The removal of the “Green Green Dress” sequence from the film Tick, Tick…BOOM! is one of the smartest decisions I’ve heard a filmmaker make in a long time. And, yet, the scene itself is a perfect example of how a movie musical should be done. I can’t wait to see which musical Lin-Manuel will tackle next.

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