Lin-Manuel Miranda is a man of many talents. The former substitute teacher has not only penned the infamous Hamilton production in its entirety but has been responsible for the wonderful glam-rock influenced Moana soundtrack, and his talents also extend in front of the proscenium arch/camera. He’s appeared as a cameo in Brooklyn Nine-Nine and carried most of the Mary Poppins Returns soundtrack opposite Emily Blunt, as well the new BBC-HBO His Dark Materials series.
Now, he’s taking centre stage with the adaptation of his Broadway musical which has also done its rounds at the West End. The new trailer for In The Heights reveals iconic influences including West Side Story and Rent included. However, Miranda’s signature hip-hop motifs are the backbone of the score, with changing keys (a sophisticated musical device) and quickfire lyrics guiding us through an emotive story.
At the centre of the spectacle is a story about a Latin-American community in the New York City district of Washington Heights. Set over the course of three days, it doesn’t promise to be rosy or plain-sailing, but there are some excellent showstoppers and fantastic choreography worthy of the theatrical performances. Timely in a year that’s already been littered with the worst anti-immigration sentiment, In The Heights looks to be a remedy for difficult circumstances.
The stellar cast includes Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born, Hamilton), Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, BlacKkKlansman), singer/songwriter Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera (Vida), Olga Merediz (Broadway’s In the Heights), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent), Gregory Diaz IV (Matilda the Musical), Dascha Polanco (Orange is the New Black) and Jimmy Smits (Star Wars).
The official synopsis is as follows:
Lights up on Washington Heights…The scent of a cafecito caliente hangs in the air just outside of the 181st Street subway stop, where a kaleidoscope of dreams rallies this vibrant and tight-knit community. At the intersection of it all is the likeable, magnetic bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who saves every penny from his daily grind as he hopes, imagines and sings about a better life.
In the Heights fuses Lin-Manuel Miranda’s kinetic music and lyrics with director Jon M. Chu’s lively and authentic eye for storytelling to capture a world very much of its place, but universal in its experience.
In The Heights will be directed by Crazy Rich Asians director John Chu, from the screenplay by Quiara Alegría Hudes. Miranda and Hudes are co-producing, together with Scott Sanders, Anthony Bregman and Mara Jacobs. David Nicksay and Kevin McCormick served as executive producers.
In keeping with many of his productions, Miranda himself will be starring in the film, this time, as a ‘Piragua guy’. At this point in time his role is very open to interpretation, but Heights promises to be a lot of fun and probably the most compelling and heartfelt adaptations of his work yet.
In The Heights is set for a US theatrical release on June 26, 2020.