On March 18, two of the most popular Broadway musical actors, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt, released a song titled “Found/Tonight,” in the hopes of fighting gun violence with music. The two weaved “The Story of Tonight” (from the musical “Hamilton”) and “You Will be Found” (from the musical “Dear Evan Hansen”) into a tapestry of emotion, creating an anthem for the rising supporters of this cause.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a composer, lyricist, playwright, and actor well-known for his work in musicals such as “Hamilton,” “In the Heights,” “West Side,” and “Bring It On.” He is most well known for his lead role as Alexander Hamilton in the original cast of “Hamilton,” which won 11 Tony’s awards, a Grammy award, and the Pulitzer Prize. Hamilton is a favorite among many across the world due to its unique style. In this production, Miranda merges history with music. Historical events are transformed into rap battles, ballads, and rhyming rants. Even in history classes, teachers reference his musical when teaching students about the founding years of America. Miranda spent five long years researching and writing the musical biography of Alexander Hamilton. Those years have paid off in the form of worldwide recognition. Outside of the musical theater world, Miranda helped create Disney’s “Moana” and is known for his efforts in restoring Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in the fall of 2017. Due to his recognition from “Hamilton,” Miranda uses this platform to bring this issue to attention.
The other half of the duet is performed by Ben Platt. Originally appearing as the timid magician turned singer named Benji in “Pitch Perfect,” Ben went on to perform in the sequel. He appeared in various other movies and starred as the lead in the Broadway musical, “Dear Evan Hansen.” “Dear Evan Hansen,” abbreviated DEH, is a musical written by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul. It follows the story of Evan Hansen, a senior in high school who is suffering from social anxiety. The musical refers to topics such as mental illnesses, suicide, therapy, forgiveness and healing. In today’s world, mental health issues seem more prevalent; therefore, education and awareness of the topic can be found in pop culture. Just like “Hamilton,” “DEH” has won multiple awards (including a Tony for Best Musical), and ticket prices have soared as popularity and recognition grew.
“Found/Tonight” was inspired by the Parkland school shooting and the loud outcry for gun control. On February 14, Valentine’s Day, Nikolas Cruz, an expelled former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, walked into the freshman building with malicious intent. He began shooting through classroom doors as the fire alarm went off, killing 17 people with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle. The loss of friends, siblings, children, parents, and teachers left the community and the country in tears.
After the tears came anger. Voices began to shout for action. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt’s mashup was released in support of this cause. They performed “Found/Tonight” at the Washington, D.C., “March For Our Lives,” a march where survivors of Parkland, victims of gun violence, and supporters gathered to protest for stricter gun laws, and to figh against losing another innocent life through the gun violence.
The song “Found/ Tonight” blends two stellar songs. “You Will be Found” from “DEH” details the loneliness people feel, and how there is a light at the end of the tunnel even when things feel hopeless. It tells the listener that even if they are “broken on the ground,” they are not alone. When used in the mashup, the song now represents singular voices in the masses joining together for stricter gun laws – and to show victims, survivors, and the world, they are not alone in their fight. “The Story of Tonight” from “Hamilton” lends lines like, “We may not yet have reached our glory/But I will gladly join the fight.” Lyrical changes from “I” to “We” in the first line, and the addition of the word “yet” represent the start of the fight and the promise by the gun safety movement to achieve its goal. In addition to the inspiring lyrics, the music brings the promise of change and hope through dynamics and instrumentals. At the beginning of the piece, Ben Platt starts out with a dynamic of forte then decrescendos at the end of his part. This represents the bold statement, passion and support in this cause, and promises more is to come.
Throuhgout the rest of the song, Miranda and Plattt change between mezzo forte and piano, gradually crescendoing to forte then back to piano. They use harmonies to add depth to their sound, causing the music to tug at one’s heartstrings. Miranda and Platt clearly structured the song to support the fight for gun control, and to honor the innocent people lost due to gun violence.
“Found/Tonight” is heartfelt and powerful. Especially at this time in history, platforms such as music and social media are important influences. Therefore, with something as important as gun control, an anthem such as this is only fitting for our fight.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.