The winner of four Tony Awards in 2008, including Best Musical, “In the Heights,” is coming back home for its 5-year anniversary. Viva Broadway, in collaboration with the United Palace of Cultural Arts, is holding a benefit concert in honor of the musical, for one night only–on February 11, and for the first time, in the neighborhood where the story is based — Washington Heights, NYC.
Creator and star of the Broadway musical Lin-Manuel Miranda says the idea came about from a conversation with the actress who played his love interest “Vanessa” in the original play — Karen Olivo. They mutually agreed they should do a reunion concert, so they quickly spread the word to the original cast, and booked their original stage manager and designers.
“What’s great is that it will all come back once we all get back in the room,” says Miranda whose first musical he ever wrote went from off-Broadway, to Broadway, to national tour. “We’ve become like an extended family. I will always think of them as family…This cast, all of the casts I’ve worked with, is brilliant, [and they] saw me when I was literally broke…They’ve seen the journey, and my journey.”
Miranda, who just turned 33, says he spent his twenties writing “In the Heights.” It tells the story of his hometown — “a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.”
Composer and lyricist Miranda says he’s proud of being able to bring his play to the second largest theater in New York, which happens to be in Washington Heights — United Palace Theater. As a benefit concert, the show will consist of the original cast singing more than 60 of the celebrated songs, which combined, won a Tony for Best Original Score. Miranda hints they will surprise the audience with a song that was never sung in completion in the musical, called “Siempre.”
“The response has been really wonderful,” says Miranda. “I got a message from someone coming from Peru, and someone from Scotland. That’s really humbling. It’s really a special thing for us to come together again.”
Currently, the energetic Miranda is working on his new role-playing a doctor on NBC’s new series “Do No Harm,” which premiered last week.
“Whenever I’m not doing that, I’m writing my next play,” says Miranda who’s currently writing, “The Hamilton Mixtape,” a hip hop production about our founding fathers. “I’m writing that every day. It’s very challenging, but the best. I’d be writing and making songs even if I wasn’t paid to do it – I feel very lucky.”
Miranda says he still lives in uptown Manhattan and always will.
“In working with Hamilton, I stumble upon Washington Heights, because this is where Washington came to,” says Miranda about President George Washington fleeing British troops by going through northern Manhattan. “It continues to influence my work.”