Flashback Friday: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘In the Heights’ opened new doors in musical theatre

"In the Heights."

“In the Heights.”

A musical that combines the elements of a specific music genre along with a plotline involving a love for Hispanic roots has been able to reach out and touch more than just the types of people represented in it.

In the Heights is adored by so many different groups of people due to its innovative score and uplifting message, as well as because everyone can find at least one story to relate to.

Take Nina, a successful student who crumbles upon going away to school. She loathes the thought of failure, and is afraid of resentment and disappointment from her family and friends.

Benny, on the other hand, wishes to attend a business school. He wants to reach recognition, achievement and most importantly, wealth. He has been working diligently for a long time in hopes of pursuing that goal.

Then there’s Vanessa, a beautiful and ambitious young woman who, unlike Nina, who has chosen to return home, longs to escape. She has dreams bigger than anyone can even imagine, or at least in her mind she does. Vanessa wishes most of all to own her own studio and leave everything else behind.

Usnavi is eager to return to where it all began for him: Dominican Republic. Ever since his parents passed away, his number one goal has been to go back and experience his life to the fullest. He runs a bodega in Washington Heights, which is where the story begins.

These tales of hope are infused with romance and some intense twists, making for an exhilarating plot from start to finish.

In the Heights is undoubtedly one of the most revolutionary musicals of all time. It introduced Broadway to the notion of using rap as a storytelling device, which has paved the way for numerous up-and-coming musical theatre writers.

Lin-Manuel Miranda penned the score of this show and it features a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. The original Broadway cast included Miranda as Usnavi, Christopher Jackson as Benny, Mandy Gonzalez as Nina, Karen Olivo as Vanessa and Andrea Burns as salon owner and noted gossip Daniela.

In the Heights won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical. Its Tonys telecast performance of “96,000” was, in a word, powerful.

The show ran for almost three years at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. It should have been open for decades, as In the Heights opened the door to an entirely singular and unique fan-base of theatregoers. People of all races, backgrounds and ages were able to enjoy this truly special show in a variety of ways.

Nowadays, it’s easy to pick out demographics for certain musicals. Someone can stroll past a student rush line and see at least one trend within the group of people standing there. In the Heights was something else, entirely. It brought in people who had never even been in a Broadway theatre before through its themes alone. However, it was also cherished by many more and for much more.

The musical recently had a reunion concert, which brought many of the original cast members back together for a night of music and memories, and the concert did not start on time because of how many people showed up to see it. The line to get inside went on for blocks. However, once everyone piled in, the venue was filled to the brim with fans and jam-packed with love.

In the Heights will be remembered forever as an important piece of theatre. But let’s be real for a minute- how awesome would a film adaptation be?

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