decorated, it’s wonderfully choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler and takes full
advantage of the space it’s on with a multi-level street corner scene that reveals the
lives of our characters and the impact they have on their community.  Lit subtlety to
perfection In The Heights doesn't have all the bells-and-whistles Broadway has relied
on for it’s recent hits.  This is truly a musical for the ages and pays great homage to the
shows that paved the way for it’s coming.  In The Heights will remind you of shows from
a kindly, less commercial age of theater...where product placement wasn't a selling
point.

The music, lyrics and language of In The Heights is what makes this show a
milestone.  This is the way Latinos speak and think -- and here it is presented: this is
how we sing.  With songs like “Paciencia y Fe”, “Breathe”, “No Me Diga”, and “Everything
I Know” Lin-Manuel Miranda evolves the language of the streets of New York with the
energy and passion of Latino arrangements, mixed with the narrative that takes the
audience through the life and times of the people of In The Heights.

The ensemble cast is as much a star of the show as any of it’s main players, and as
cast member Tony Chiroldes candidly commented to me, “I’m proud that In The Heights
is touching other cultures, nations with a story that hits close to home -- no matter
where that 'home' is.  It's a story about family, love, struggles, parenting, decisions, loss
and gain: a universal story!  Add to that a rockin' score, performances, music and
choreography, and there you have it!”

And there you have it!

Something like this doesn't happen very often.  It’s unfortunate.  But lately it feels like it’s
sooner and farther in-between, when our culture is given the relevance and recognition
to have inspired this kind of art.  If you’re Latino, you’ll never be prouder than when you’
re sitting in the audience of this Broadway hit, and if you’re not Latino, you’ll never be
more envious of our culture...but thanks to the joy and message of In The Heights which
is universal, you’ll whole-heartedly be embraced as an honorary Latino and be
recognized as one of us!
in the US.  Heights is the story of the Latino-
American and how we’ve come to matter...to
contribute as Americas.

It speaks in volumes that every night the show
presently staged at the Richard Rodgers
Theatre in New York City, is often times filled to
capacity.  It’s audience is limitless!  Drawing
the attention of celebrities from Britney
Spears to Jennifer Lopez (who has seen the
show more than once).  The show resonates with young and old alike and
encompasses a story that everyone can relate to.  At the core, it’s the story of a
hopelessly romantic, local shop owner, Usnavi currently played by the thrilling and fresh
faced Javier Muñoz (the role was originated by Lin-Manuel Miranda and won him a Tony
as well for Best Lead Actor in a Musical), as boy-chases-girl in the hopes of winning her
affections.  But “girl” in this case the whimsical Vanessa performed to pop-perfection by
the stunningly riveting Janet Dacal (and no more beautiful starlet exists on Broadway at
the moment) has bigger plans and wants to escape the confines of living in the
heights!  Surrounded by a myriad cast including the equally gorgeous and melodiously
gifted Mandy Gonzalez who plays Nina, the girl who made it off the block, Christopher
Jackson, her star-crossed soul mate, the heroic Benny, and Robin De Jesus who
portrays the scene-stealing, all-too-cute-for-words Cousin Sonny.  What binds everyone
together in the barrio is the love and affection of Abuela Claudia, played by the ever-
exuberant Tony nominated Olga Merediz.

Directed for the stage by Thomas Kail, who also breathed life to In The Heights in it’s
original Off-Broadway incarnation, what makes this musical so inviting and rich is that it
relies on the performance of its talented cast.  Simply staged and
www.ambiente.us  MARCH | MARZO 2009

Theatre Review | Take the Broadway Line to In The
Heights|
The Musical Milestone
by JC Alvarez


Everyday we’re being reminded of how vast the numbers are as the Latino community
swiftly becomes a “majority minority” in the United States of America.  In this day and
age where Slumdog Millionaire wins an Academy Award for Best Picture and the
glamorously fabulous daughter of España, la Penelope Cruz can be recognized for her
outstanding work in a Woody Allen comedy, Broadway embraces the Latino culture and
celebrates our contributions in the 2008 Tony Award winning In The Heights.

Currently, the darling of the Great White Way, Heights is one of the few shows on
Broadway that wasn’t spawned under the sea, with a spoonful of sugar, or first saw the
light of day as an animated ogre.  It is the brainchild of a young man, who was living it!  
Inspired by the musicals he shared on long car trips with his family, Lin-Manuel
Miranda penned the music and lyrics by combining the beats and rhythms of our
culture, and blending it with the language of our people, but still retaining the reverence
and potency of what makes an American musical legendary and endurable for all
ages.  In The Heights is as reflective of our times as West Side Story was in it’s day
detailing the story of the emerging immigrant
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In The Heights is currently on Broadway, in New York City at the Richard Rodgers
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