Get to know the cast of In The Heights!
Que Lo Que by José Clair
The dramaturgy is present. Lin Manuel-Miranda and Quiara Hudes have seamlessly written in everything for a theatre artist or theatre goer to understand the world in which In The Heights is set. The show accurately portrays the predominantly Dominican ethnic enclave in Manhattan, Washington Heights. The complexity of the characters, the tastes and smells of the street vendor's foods, the love of café con leche, Latin machismo, and the sounds of the street, ranging from hip hop to bachata to salsa to the cacophony car horns blaring at all times of the day and night.
They've woven in various ethnic identities that exist around 181st st. from Dominican, Puerto Rican and Cuban, to Mexican and Ecuadorian, and the incredible pride the community feels for their heritage, both by their national ethnic identities and by being part of a larger Latin community ("in the heights I hang my flag up on display"). At the heart of the show is the daily struggle of the community members to make ends meet with low incomes and rising costs of living. For example, Daniela's hair salon can no longer afford the rising costs and decreasing number of customers, so she is forced to close shop and move across the river into the Bronx.
This truly represents the experience of many current and former Washington Heights residents. With an average household income of $37,500 and rent prices steadily increasing ("in the heights it gets more expensive everyday"), the residents are being driven out as the rent increases at a faster rate than income. Street vendors struggle against big, franchised businesses (Piragua guy vs. Mister Softee). Bodegas, or corner markets, struggle as larger grocery stores enter the neighborhood. And community members struggle against further effects of gentrification, namely moving from everything they've known into other parts of the city, thereby creating an even greater Latin Diaspora.
In just a few brief hours In The Heights explores a range of daily cultural experiences for a specific ethnic enclave in NYC while also brilliantly positioning itself to show the commonalities of a general human experience and how every end leads to a new beginning.