There he was on Facebook: a posted photograph of Dominic Grijalva, Fresno State student and longtime community theater acting and directing talent, standing in the Broadway dressing room of none other than the buzziest man in the theater world right now.
Gulp. Shock. Is there a word for your hand crumpling on your mouse, bringing your brisk online scrolling session to an abrupt halt?
Even if you don’t recognize Miranda’s name right off, you’re sure to have heard of his show, “Hamilton,” which has become a pop-culture juggernaut. Pulitzer Prize-winner, Tony Award hog, hottest Broadway ticket in a decade – it’s all of that but more, that rare moment when something in the cultural arts achieves the status of phenomenon.
And there was Grijalva last month with the man behind it all, Miranda, at the height of fame.
But this wasn’t just a moment of a star-struck fan meeting theater royalty. (Well, maybe a little.) This was also a business deal.
The 24-year-old Grijalva, who lives in Selma and is studying graphic design at Fresno State, is one of the artists featured in Miranda’s new line of merchandise, Tee-Rico.
Grijalva designed T-shirts for the collection inspired by Miranda’s show “In the Heights.”
Each shirt is inspired from a moment in the show, which Grijalva just happened to direct at the Selma Arts Center last year. For example, he used these lyrics for one design:
Y’all could cry with your head in the sand
I’m a Fly This Flag that I got in my hand!
You can check out Grijalva’s “In the Heights” designs at www.teerico.com.
So how did this all come about?
It all started with a Twitter relationship. Grijalva, who had been a Miranda fan ever since he saw “In the Heights” on the Tony Awards, followed the director and playwright. He started sending pithy little replies to some of Miranda’s tweets. Miranda noticed and started following Grijalva as well. They even exchanged some tweets about the Selma “In the Heights” production.
Then in December, Grijalva made a holiday card inspired by lyrics from “Hamilton.” Cleverly designed like an eye chart, he made 50 extra copies and sent one to each member of the “Hamilton” cast and crew.
“A month later I saw it hanging up in a picture in his dressing room,” Grijalva says. “Of course I flipped out.”
Miranda contacted him a few months later with the Tee-Rico proposal. Proceeds go to the artists and to designated charities.
Their June 1 meeting backstage coincided with a trip Grijalva had already planned to New York to see the show.
For now, Grijalva is concentrating on his next show – directing a production of the musical “Heathers” at the Selma Arts Center, opening Aug. 5 – and finishing up at Fresno State.
But he’s been bitten by the Broadway bug, not necessarily as actor or director.
“My goal, once I graduate, is to move to New York and work in the Broadway industry. I think my calling is in the advertising/branding side of things,” he says.
Bonus ‘Hamilton’ story
How excited are people about “Hamilton?” When Chelsea Bonilla, an English teacher at Roosevelt High School, was told by her husband, Manuel, that he was taking her to New York for their 10th anniversary to see “Hamilton,” the accomplished historical costumer was so excited she decided to make a special dress for the occasion.
The result: an elegant 1950s pleated dress in seven colors dyed in an ombré design ranging from a pale yellow to a brownish orange to perfectly match the palette of the “Hamilton” poster. Simply gorgeous. She wore it to see the show Wednesday. You can follow her progress in making the #Hamildress on Twitter.