In The Heights

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 7:00 am By: Marlene S. Gaylinn Source: On CT Theatre
Broadway Theatre - Elmsford, N.Y.

If you missed “In The Heights,” before it closed on Broadway in 2011, you might have another chance to see it.  This lively, full-scale musical, which won numerous awards, is now playing to “sold out” crowds at Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) in Elmsford, N.Y.

The opening night was a festive benefit for the community of Washington Heights.  Children and adults of many ethnic backgrounds dressed in their finest attire, and were accompanied by bright lights and photographers in the lobby.  It was also a reunion for cast members of the original Broadway show and National Tours who acted as a cheering squad during the performance. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who originated the story, wrote the music and lyrics and acted in the original production, made some pre-show remarks.  Speaking in a Puerto Rican accent, his proud father, who co-produced the benefit, introduced his son by telling an anecdote about his young trickster who desperately wanted to come home from summer camp. Lin-Manuel faked a backache and had everyone fooled until he was taken to the hospital. When his parents showed up, Luis warned his son that he may have won his way this time, but he might not always end up on top. Realizing this show’s success, the father happily announced that he was proven wrong. 

"Heights” is about a close-knit Hispanic community in northern Manhattan, called, Washington Heights.  It’s about love, hope, aspirations, and the changes that take place in most immigrants’ lives -- the compromises that must be made and the nostalgia over what was left behind.  Naturally, folks tend to remember only the good things. As a former New Yorker, I am familiar with the cycle of Jewish, Irish, Italian etc. immigrants who occupied various sections of Manhattan.  In these ethnic neighborhoods, generations felt comfortable while continuing to follow their own customs.  Interestingly, it was mainly German Jews who previously occupied Washington Heights.  While some smaller sections have remained more or less intact, much of New York City contains mixed residential areas

now.  As people mingle, everyone gets to enjoy a mixture of flavors and colors.  And, that’s a good thing.
“In The Heights” is spiced with the many flavors of Latin American cultures.  While the orchestra sometimes overpowered the performers, and the rap dialogue is hard to understand, unless you’re of a certain generation and familiar with the show, the music, particularly the dancing which