By Elizabeth Leonard
February 24, 2017 10:43 PM

Leave it to Lin-Manuel Miranda to keep things light.

“City of stars, are you shining just for me?” sings Miranda, 37, from center stage soon after arriving at Oscars rehearsal late Friday afternoon. Of course, those lyrics — from the Oscar-nominated song, “City of Stars,” from La La Land — aren’t from Miranda’s film, Moana, but it’s all in good fun.

At rehearsal, in jeans and a gray hoodie emblazoned with “Rehearsal Is the Best Part,” the boyish Miranda watches from the wings of the Dolby Theatre as Auli’i Cravalho belts out his Oscar-nominated song, “How Far I’ll Go,” from Moana.

“Incredible!” Miranda says of 16-year-old Cravalho, who plays the title role in the film, after one rousing go-round.

Watch the PEOPLE & EW Red Carpet Live Oscars pre-show on Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to, or download the app on your favorite device. Then watch our Red Carpet Fashion Wrap-Up after the Oscars!

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As dancers carrying large swatches of blue fabric move about the stage in an ethereal performance, a poised Cravalho flawlessly sings the full song several times. Smiling and seemingly relaxed, she says “thank you” as the few dozen people peppering the orchestra seats applaud.

When Cravalho finishes up, Miranda, who is joined by his dad at the low-key rehearsal, gives her a supportive hug.

The last performer of the day is singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, who practices her song for Sunday’s special “In Memoriam” performance which will honor those in the entertainment community who have died over the last year.

(Following Sunday’s “In Memoriam” performance, an extended photo gallery of more than 200 filmmakers, artists and executives will be recognized on

After rehearsals are over for the day and Miranda, Cravalho and Bareilles have long since left, the tireless Oscars set production crew gear up for a late night. By 7:00 p.m., the music and talent rehearsals have given way to the hums of set-building machinery and walkie talkies as those behind the scenes work their own magic on the stage.

Jimmy Kimmel is hosting the Oscars ceremony, which will be broadcast on ABC beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. See all the Oscar nominees and get your own ballot here!