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Posted Apr 23, 2012, 1:38 pm
The musical “In The Heights” is about a neighborhood in Manhattan, but it also is a universal story about community. People work to make a living young, people fall in love, families struggle, people succeed and fail. When a winning lottery ticket is sold, people dream of what they would change if they could. Of course, in most neighborhoods, the residents don’t spontaneously break into energetic song and dance.
Broadway in Tucson is bringing the national touring company of “In The Heights” to town with eight shows during the limited six-day run.
Winner of the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical, “In The Heights” also won Tonys that year for Best Music and Lyrics, Best Choreography and Best Orchestration, as well as the 2008 Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.
“In The Heights” is set in New York’s Washington Heights, a close-knit ethnic community. American-born Usnavi, the son of Dominican Republic immigrants, runs the bodega where the winning ticket was sold. Puerto Ricans Kevin and Camilia run a struggling transportation company. Their daughter, Nina, is the first in the family to make it to college. Daniela runs a nearby hair salon threatened by increased rent. Her employees include Vanessa, Usnavi’s love interest, and innocent Carla There are also street-savvy friends, artists and food vendors to round out the story.
The original story was conceived by composer and rapper Lin-Manuel Miranda while in college in 1999, where he wrote the music and lyrics. An early version of show was first staged at Wesleyan University. With Quiara Alegria Hudes providing a new book, the show made it to Broadway in 2008.
Although heavily infused with hip-hop, salsa and Caribbean rhythms, “In The Heights” is part of the long tradition of community tales on Broadway, including “Fiddler On The Roof” and “West Side Story.” It also demonstrates the flexibility and willingness of Broadway shows to incorporate new sounds into traditional structures to create new, exciting works.