“In The Heights” has been on my radar for some time now, but it wasn’t until this year that I felt that we had the talent to do justice to the musical. I chose this musical because it is the universal story of a vibrant multi-cultural community just like Garfield. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s message of hope, desires and struggles tells the story of the largely Dominican-American neighborhood of New York’s Washington Heights – a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind. The story is set over the course of three days around the 4th of July.
Working with our cast and crew has been a very rich and rewarding experience. It is a group of young adults that have totally embraced the process of creating something magical and in their journey have become a neighborhood family supporting one another as they strive for success. Our technical students have created the close knit neighborhood, necessary for the show, giving the actors a rich tapestry to work with.
The following is a message from Lin-Manuel Miranda recorded in early 2014:
“The joy of In The Heights runs both ways to me; when I see a school production with not a lot of Latino students doing it, I know they’re learning things about Latino culture that go beyond what they’re fed in the media every day. They HAVE to learn those things to play their parts correctly. And when I see a school with a huge Latino population do Heights, I feel a surge of pride that the students get to perform something that may have a sliver of resonance in their daily lives. Just please God, tell them that tanning and bad 50’s style Shark makeup isn’t necessary. Latinos come in every color of the rainbow, thanks very much.
And I’ve said this a million times, but it bears repeating: high school’s the ONE CHANCE YOU GET, as an actor, to play any role you want, before the world tells you what ‘type’ you are. The audience is going to suspend disbelief: they’re there to see their kids, whom they already love, in a play. Honor that sacred time as educators, and use it to change their lives. You’ll be glad you did.”
We hope you enjoy our efforts as you enter the world of the Barrio.
Over the course of the July 4th weekend, we encounter the many colorful residents of Washington Heights -- a New York City neighborhood on the brink of change. Usnavi, a first generation Dominican-American corner bodega owner, and his friends and family are dealing with the pressures of rising rents and closing neighborhood businesses. As one family struggles to figure out how to pay for an Ivy League tuition for their brilliant and hard working daughter, a young woman is trying to put a down payment on a new apartment, and Usnavi himself is trying to get back to the Dominican Republic to reconnect with his roots after the death of his parents. In Washington Heights, community is everything, and we see how each of these individuals struggles to survive and how these same individuals come together as a community to mourn their losses and rejoice in their triumphs. Over the course of the show, we see the hard-working residents of Washington Heights grapple with love and lust, identity and racism, all while the prospect of a winning lottery ticket hangs in the air, potentially changing the livelihoods of the people and the community forever.
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