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In the Heights

In the Heights
Broadway poster
Music Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jason Mantzoukas
Lyrics Lin-Manuel Miranda
Book Quiara Alegría Hudes
Productions 2007 Off-Broadway
2008 Broadway
2009 North American Tour
2011 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Concert
2011 Manila
2013 Brazil
2013 Panama
2013 Philadelphia
2014 Edinburgh
Awards Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Score
Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical
Lortel Award for Best Musical
Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist

In the Heights is a musical with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jason Mantzoukas, and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. The story is set over the course of three days, involving an ensemble cast of characters in the largely Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City.

After productions in Connecticut (2005) and Off-Broadway (2007), the show opened in a Broadway theatre production in March 2008. This production was nominated for thirteen Tony Awards, winning four: Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler), and Best Orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman). It was also nominated for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.


  • Background 1
  • Productions 2
    • Connecticut (2005) 2.1
    • Off-Broadway (2007) 2.2
    • Broadway (2008-2011) 2.3
    • US Tour (2009-2011) 2.4
    • Manila, Philippines (2011) 2.5
    • Non-Equity Tour (2011-2012) 2.6
    • Panama City, Panama 2.7
    • São Paulo, Brazil 2.8
    • London (2014) 2.9
  • Characters 3
  • Synopsis 4
    • Act 1 4.1
    • Act 2 4.2
  • Musical numbers 5
  • Casts 6
  • Awards and nominations 7
    • Original Broadway production 7.1
  • Reception 8
  • Film adaptation 9
  • Television 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Miranda wrote the earliest draft of In the Heights in 1999, his sophomore year of college. After the show was accepted by Wesleyan University's student theater company Second Stage, Miranda worked on adding "freestyle rap ... bodegas, and salsa numbers."[1] It played from April 20, 1999 to April 22, 1999. After seeing the play, four Wesleyan seniors, John Buffalo Mailer, Neil Stewart, Anthony Veneziale and Thomas Kail approached Miranda and asked if the play could be expanded to be on Broadway.[1] In 2002, Miranda and Mailer worked with director Tommy Kail and wrote five separate drafts of In the Heights.


Connecticut (2005)

A new version of In the Heights was presented at the National Music Theatre Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT in 2005.[2][3]

Off-Broadway (2007)

It then opened at the off-Broadway 37 Arts Theater, running from February 8, 2007 through July 15, 2007. Directed by Thomas Kail, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and music direction by Alex Lacamoire, it was produced by Jill Furman, Kevin McCollum, Jeffrey Seller and Sander Jacobs. The off-Broadway production was nominated for nine Drama Desk Awards, winning two.

Broadway (2008-2011)

The musical premiered on Broadway, starting in previews on February 14, 2008,[4] with an official opening on March 9, 2008 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The Broadway production was again directed and choreographed by Kail and Blankenbuehler, with most of the off-Broadway principals reprising their roles. The creative team included set design by Anna Louizos, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Acme Sound Partners, arrangements and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman, and music coordination by Michael Keller.

The producers announced on January 8, 2009 that the show had recouped its $10 million investment after 10 months.[5] The cast recording was released on June 3, 2008, by Ghostlight Records and won the 51st Annual Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, beating the recordings of The Little Mermaid, Young Frankenstein, and the revivals of Gypsy and South Pacific. The Broadway production celebrated its 1000th performance on August 2, 2010.[6]

The Broadway production played its final performance on January 9, 2011 after 29 previews and 1,184 regular performances, making it the 82nd longest running show in Broadway history.[7][8] The final cast starred Lin-Manuel Miranda, Arielle Jacobs, Marcy Harriell, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Olga Merediz, Andréa Burns, and Priscilla Lopez.

US Tour (2009-2011)

The first national tour of In the Heights began on October 27, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.[9] The musical ran in San Juan, Puerto Rico in November 2010, the first time an Equity tour has played in the city. Puerto Rico is the "ancestral home of its librettist Quiara Alegría Hudes and its star and Tony-winning songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda." Miranda played this engagement.[10] The national tour closed on April 3, 2011 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida.[11] At the time of its closing, the tour starred Joseph Morales as Usnavi.[12]

Manila, Philippines (2011)

The international premiere opened in Manila, Philippines, on September 2, 2011, and played a limited engagement until September 18, 2011. The new production was directed by Bobby Garcia and starred Nyoy Volante as Usnavi.[13] In the Heights had a repeat run last March 2012 and Lin -Manuel Miranda was present in the audience during the opening night.[14]

Non-Equity Tour (2011-2012)

In The Heights began a new, non-Equity United States national tour, starting on October 17, 2011, according to casting notices. The tour ran until June 2012.[15][16][17] The tour played in Chicago in January 2012, with Virginia Cavaliere as Nina, Presilah Nunez as Vanessa, Kyle Carter as Benny, and Perry Young as Usnavi.[18]

Panama City, Panama

In Panama, "Carnaval del Barrio" (In the Heights) was staged at the famed Teatro en Círculo, from the 3rd to the 31st of October, 2013, produced by Top Line Events and directed by Aaron Zebede, who also adapted the book and songs to Spanglish, which worked perfectly for a Panamanian audience. Jose "Pepe" Casis was the musical director, who also played the part of Piragua Guy. [19]

São Paulo, Brazil

They Brazilian premiere of "Nas Alturas - O Musical da Broadway" (In the Heights) was staged at Teatro Bradesco from 17th April until 25th May 2014. The cast featured Myra Ruiz (Nina), Ricardo Marques (Benny), Mauro Gorini (Kevin), Germana Guilherme (Camila), Renata Brás (Daniela), Milena Martines (Carla), Lola Fanucchi (Vanessa), Thiago Vianna (Graffiti) and Rafael Dantas (Piragua Guy).

London (2014)

The UK premiere of In The Heights was staged at Southwark Playhouse from 9th May until 7th June 2014. The cast featured Sam Mackay, David Bedella and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, with direction by Luke Sheppard.[20]


  • Usnavi is the narrator of the play's exposition and a major character throughout; he is the owner of a small bodega in Washington Heights. He was named after one of the first sights his parents saw when they arrived in America: a US Navy ship. He dreams of returning to the Dominican Republic, the place he was born but too young to remember. Abuela Claudia, the neighborhood matriarch, "practically raised" him when his parents both died during his early childhood. He is in love with Vanessa. [Originally played by Lin-Manuel Miranda.]
  • "Abuela" Claudia is the loving matriarch of the barrio who knows everybody and is like a grandmother to all ("abuela" means "grandmother" in Spanish). She is the one who looked after Usnavi when his parents died. She and her mother moved from Cuba to New York in 1943 while she was a child. She worked as a maid for several years but never earned the money for her and her mother to travel home. [Originally played by Olga Merediz.]
  • Vanessa is Usnavi's love interest who works at Daniela's salon. She is stunningly beautiful and catches the eye of every guy in the Heights, however she takes interest in Usnavi. She lives with an alcoholic mother and dreams of getting out of the barrio and getting an apartment downtown, but cannot yet afford it. [Originally played by Karen Olivo]
  • Nina Rosario is the first in her family to go to college (Stanford University), and everyone in the barrio admires her as the "one who made it out." However, she returns home from school for the summer to reluctantly tell her parents that she has become overburdened and dropped out. She is the typical "good girl" and always got along with her parents. Now, though, she loses patience constantly over her father's overprotectiveness and his refusal to accept Benny. [Originally played by Mandy Gonzalez]
  • Benny works at the dispatch of Nina's father, Kevin. Perhaps the only character in the play who does not speak Spanish and is not Hispanic, he falls in love with Nina. He dreams of opening his own business. [Originally played by Christopher Jackson.]
  • Sonny is Usnavi's sassy, superficially lazy, yet ambitious younger cousin who works with Usnavi in the bodega. He is typically the jokester of the barrio, but he also has an intelligent and thoughtful side that yearns for social justice. [Originally played by Robin de Jesus.]
  • Daniela is the outrageously dramatic owner of the salon where the neighborhood girls come to gossip. She is very bold and loud and loves to banter. [Originally played by Andrea Burns.]
  • Carla works at Daniela's salon along with Vanessa, and is Daniela's close friend; young and pretty, but a little slow to get the others' jokes and innuendos, she is of Chilean, Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican descent. [Originally played by Janet Dacal.]
  • Kevin Rosario is Nina's overprotective father, who, coming from a long line of farmers, has worked hard to resist following in his own father's footsteps. He now owns his own taxi cab service: Rosario's. [Originally played by Carlos Gomez.]
  • Camila Rosario is Nina's strong-willed mother, who wants what is best for Nina. She is typically tolerant of Kevin's control issues, but in the course of the show, reveals her real feelings. [Originally played by Priscilla Lopez]
  • The Piragua Guy (Piragüero) is the owner of a small piragua stand that competes with Mister Softee. [Originally played by Eliseo Roman.]
  • Graffiti Pete is a graffiti artist and friend of Sonny. Usnavi believes he is a trouble-making vandal, until Pete reveals his amazing skills as an artist. [Originally played by Seth Stewart.]


Act 1

At the crack of dawn, on the hottest day of summer, Usnavi chases away a graffiti artist from his tiny bodega in Washington Heights, opens the store, and introduces the major characters ("In the Heights"). Last to appear is Nina Rosario, back from her freshman year at Stanford University, who readies herself to give her parents some bad news ("Breathe"). Meanwhile, Nina's parents, Kevin and Camila, seek an emergency loan to keep their struggling taxi dispatch afloat, temporarily leaving Benny, a young employee and friend of Nina's, in charge; the two reconnect ("Benny's Dispatch").

At the hair salon across the street, Vanessa, Usnavi's potential love interest, dreams of escaping to a studio apartment in the West Village, remaining optimistic despite her own financial insecurity ("It Won't Be Long Now"). When Vanessa stops by Usnavi's bodega, Usnavi's younger cousin Sonny asks her out to a romantic evening on Usnavi's behalf, and she accepts.

Nina's parents return and she reveals how she lost her academic scholarship and dropped out of Stanford. Kevin is devastated that he cannot provide for his daughter ("Inútil"). Nina seeks comfort from Vanessa, but the salon owner and local gossip, Daniela, sits Nina down for a makeover, coercing Vanessa into admitting that she cares about Usnavi's sexual decisions; Nina then reveals to the salon that she has dropped out ("No Me Diga").

After Usnavi discovers that he sold a winning lottery ticket worth $96,000, everyone on the block dreams of how they would each spend the small fortune ("96,000"). Later, Abuela Claudia—the beloved neighborhood matriarch who "practically raised" Usnavi as a young orphan—reflects on her childhood journey from Cuba to New York in 1943, showing the audience that she secretly holds the winning lottery ticket ("Paciencia y Fé").

Nina and Benny take a tour of the neighborhood and reminisce, sharing romantic feelings ("When You're Home"). At a dinner party, Kevin announces that he has sold the family car service to pay for Nina's tuition. Vanessa and Usnavi then enter a dance club for their date, followed by a furious Benny, who is now out of work, and an apologetic Nina; tensions rise on the dance floor because Vanessa and Usnavi are attempting to make each other jealous, while Benny drunkenly hits a man dancing with Nina ("The Club"). The entire club breaks out into a huge fight when, suddenly, the power goes out throughout the city, probably due to the intense summer heat. The neighborhood erupts into chaos and Usnavi, Vanessa, Nina and Benny all look for each other in the darkness. Meanwhile, Sonny and his mischievous friend from the opening of the show, Graffiti Pete, attempt to distract the bodega from any potential looters by setting off fireworks obtained in preparation for the Fourth of July; at the same time, Abuela Claudia reveals to Usnavi that she won the lottery, while Nina and Benny find each other, argue, and then kiss ("Blackout").

Act 2

Benny and Nina have spent the night together and it is now the morning of the Fourth of July. Nina teaches Benny some Spanish phrases, while he shares his stress over what Kevin will think of their new relationship ("Sunrise"). Down on the street, Usnavi's bodega has been looted. Abuela Claudia convinces Usnavi they should use her lottery winnings to move to Usnavi's homeland: the Dominican Republic. Usnavi agrees to pursue this lifelong dream at last ("Hundreds of Stories").

Nina's parents have been searching for her all night, and when they learn that she has been with Benny, Kevin is furious. Kevin vows that Benny will never be a part of the Rosario family because he is not Latino, but Camila ends the family fight ("Enough"). It is high noon and all are frustrated by the extreme heat and continuing power outage. The locals, led by Daniela, muster enough energy for a last celebration before the bodega, salon, and dispatch shut their doors forever. Usnavi publicly announces that Abuela Claudia won the lottery, and he and she will soon leave for the Dominican Republic; the neighborhood celebrates, though Vanessa is heartbroken ("Carnaval del Barrio"). Kevin makes a sudden announcement over the taxi radios: Abuela Claudia has died ("Atención"). The neighborhood holds a vigil for Claudia, while Usnavi, attributing her death to a "combination of the stress and the heat," makes an impromptu eulogy ("Alabanza"). Usnavi and Nina rummage through boxes of Claudia's keepsakes ("Everything I Know"). As Nina discovers photographs from her own high school graduation, she decides to accept her father's sacrifice and return to Stanford.

Across the street, as Daniela closes her salon, she reveals one last bit of juicy news: she will co-sign on Vanessa's dream apartment in the West Village, thanks to a little convincing from Usnavi ("No Me Diga" - Reprise). Meanwhile, the Piragua Guy's rival, Mr. Softee, is unable to sell due to his truck being broken down, and Piragua Guy celebrates the flourishing of his business ("Piragua" – Reprise). Vanessa brings a bottle of champagne to thank Usnavi and, though she flirts with him, he is so flustered by Claudia's death that he is unable to appreciate Vanessa's attempts; Vanessa finally kisses him and leaves ("Champagne"). Meanwhile, Benny worries about his relationship with Nina, since her decision to go back west, and they stand together while the sun sets, uncertain of their future ("When the Sun Goes Down").

The next morning, Usnavi wakes up early to begin closing up shop. In just a few weeks, Usnavi imagines that the block will be completely changed. Sonny, however, has commissioned Graffiti Pete to paint a mural of Abuela Claudia on the bodega's grate. Sonny now rolls down the bodega grate in front of Usnavi, revealing the memorial. Usnavi is stunned that they completed this all in one night; he tells Sonny to spread the news that he has changed his mind to stay, promises to pursue Vanessa, and realizes that this block is his true home ("Finale").

Musical numbers

† Designates number not included on original cast recording


Character Opening Broadway Cast Closing Broadway Cast Notable Broadway
Cast replacement(s)
Graffiti Pete Seth Stewart N/A
Usnavi Lin-Manuel Miranda Corbin Bleu[21]
Piragua Guy Eliseo Román Tony Chiroldes N/A
Abuela Claudia Olga Merediz N/A
Carla Janet Dacal Courtney Reed N/A
Daniela Andréa Burns Justina Machado
Bianca Marroquin
Kevin Carlos Gomez Rick Négron N/A
Camila Priscilla Lopez N/A
Sonny Robin de Jesús Shaun Taylor-Corbett David Del Rio
Benny Christopher Jackson N/A
Vanessa Karen Olivo Marcy Harriell N/A
Nina Mandy Gonzalez Arielle Jacobs Janet Dacal
Jordin Sparks[22]

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2007 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Ensemble Performance Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical Thomas Kail Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Andy Blankenbuehler Won
Outstanding Music Lin-Manuel Miranda Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman Nominated
Outstanding Set Design Anna Louizos Nominated
Outstanding Sound Design Acme Sound Partners Nominated
2008 Tony Award Best Musical Won
Best Book of a Musical Quiara Alegría Hudes Nominated
Best Original Score Lin-Manuel Miranda Won
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Robin de Jesús Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Olga Merediz Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Thomas Kail Nominated
Best Choreography Andy Blankenbuehler Won
Best Orchestrations Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman Won
Best Scenic Design Anna Louizos Nominated
Best Costume Design Paul Tazewell Nominated
Best Lighting Design Howell Binkley Nominated
Best Sound Design Acme Sound Partners Nominated
Grammy Award Best Musical Show Album Won
2009 Pulitzer Prize Pulitzer Prize for Drama Nominated


The reviews for the show were positive to mixed (the median grade of 9 major reviews was "B+").[23] Charles Isherwood's review in [24] Heather Bing of The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote, "Although I was sometimes struggling to keep up with the hip-hop and Spanish-infused lyrics, the exciting set and choreography paired with excellent acting held my interest in the storyline."[25] David Rooney's Variety review said, "That depth of feeling, together with the wit of Miranda's lyrics, the playful dexterity of his rhymes, his dynamic score and a bunch of truly winning performances, make the show an uncalculated charmer."[26]

Hudes' book received mixed reviews. Charles McNulty's The Los Angeles Times review mentioned that "the downside to In the Heights is the book...which is overstuffed and oversimplified."[27] The New York Post's Clive Barnes also gave negative comments about the book, saying that "Hudes' work is droopily sentimental and untruthful."[28] Joe Dziemianowicz of the NY Daily News also disliked the book, but added that "what it lacks in story and believability it makes up for in a vibrant rap- and salsa-flavored score, spirited dances and great-looking design."[29]

Film adaptation

On November 7, 2008, Universal Pictures announced that they planned to adapt the musical as a feature film for release in 2011.[30][31] Kenny Ortega was set to direct the film, which was slated to begin filming in summer 2011.[32][33] However, the project was canceled in March 2011, when Universal opted not to produce the In the Heights film.[34] But in January 2012, Lin-Manuel Miranda said the film adaptation is back under discussion.[35]


On May 27, 2009, PBS Great Performances aired an episode entitled "In The Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams." It documents the journey taken by the cast and crew to bring the show to Broadway and to later win a Tony Award.[36] Producer Andrew Fried and Director Paul Bozymowski captured footage of the cast and creative team for over two years, from Off-Broadway through to their Tony Award win for Best Musical. The special previewed at the Paley Center for Media in New York on May 4, 2009.[37]


  1. ^ a b "The Conceiver". In the Heights. Retrieved 2008-08-26. 
  2. ^ Napoleon, Davi (June 3, 2010). "At the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center's Critics Institute 5Q4 Dan Sullivan". The Faster Times. Retrieved June 4, 2010. 
  3. ^ Listing, accessed November 30, 2010
  4. ^ Playbill News: In the Heights Will Play Broadway's Richard Rodgers Starting February 2008
  5. ^ Jones, Kenneth."In the Heights Is in the "Hits" Category; Producers Recoup Investment",, January 8, 2009
  6. ^ "Photos: 'In the Heights' Celebrates 1000th Performance on Broadway!"
  7. ^ "IN THE HEIGHTS Musical Will End Its Run:Art"
  8. ^ to Close on Broadway in January; Miranda to Return to Cast"In the Heights"
  9. ^ Jones, Kenneth."'In the Heights' Tour Will Launch in Tampa, FL, in October",, April 16, 2009
  10. ^ Jones, Kenneth."No Me Diga! Lin-Manuel Miranda Stars in Puerto Rico Leg of In the Heights Tour Nov. 30-Dec. 5", November 30, 2010
  11. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Lights Out: In the Heights Ends Broadway Run Jan. 9; Tour Continues and Film Is in the Wings", January 9, 2011.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Next to Normal, In the Heights and The Little Mermaid to Play Manila",, January 28, 2011.
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ [3]
  17. ^ [4]
  18. ^ Jones, Chris. THEATER REVIEW: "In the Heights" at the Oriental Theatre Chicago Tribune, January 11, 2012
  19. ^ "Sobre el Sentimiento de Pertenencia", La Prensa, Panama, October 10, 2013.
  20. ^ Shenton, Mark. David Bedella and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt Among Now-Complete Cast of London Premiere of 'In the Heights'", March 28, 2014
  21. ^ Corbin Bleu - In The Heights - Official Site
  22. ^ Dan Bacalzo. Arielle Jacobs to Replace Jordin Sparks in Broadway's In the Heights. Theatre News.
  23. ^ StageGrade. In the Heights.
  24. ^ Charles Isherwood. "In the Heights" Review. The New York Times
  25. ^ Heather Bing. IN THE HEIGHTS. Cleveland Leader.
  26. ^ David Rooney. Theatre Review: "In the Heights". Variety.
  27. ^ Culture Monster. THEATRE REVIEW: In the Heights at Pantages Theatre. Los Angeles Times.
  28. ^ Clive Barnes. Uptown Upstaged. The New York Post.
  29. ^ "With shallow story, Broadway's 'In the Heights' can't soar". NY Daily News Review
  30. ^ Gans, Andrew. In the Heights'""Universal Plans Silver-Screen Adaptation of ,, November 7, 2008
  31. ^ Staff. In The Heights Movie Lands New Screenwriter.
  32. ^ "ASK A STAR: Lin-Manuel Miranda". 
  33. ^ David Itzkoff. ‘In the Heights’ Movie Gets a Director and a Star. (You’ve Heard of Him.). The New York Times.
  34. ^ [5]
  35. ^ Miranda at Work on HEIGHTS Film; New Adaption of Potok's MY NAME IS ASHER LEV
  36. ^ "'In The Heights' - Chasing Broadway Dreams", retrieved November 30, 2010
  37. ^ [6], PREVIEW SCREENING AND DISCUSSION PBS Great Performances: In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams

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