Over the weekend at BroadwayCon 2018, the original cast of In the Heights (Lin Manuel Miranda’s first Broadway show) had it’s ten year reunion, and it was very emotional. Since I attended BroadwayCon, all quotes are taken directly from the panel.
In the Heights deals with poverty, love, and the struggles of being Latinx, but none of these things defines any character. The sole idea of the show is that “this is a story about not one character… it’s a story about what happens to a community as a group as they rise or fall together (Quiara Hudes). In the show there is only “dignity” and no disrespect to any community. In the Heights showcases a true neighborhood with real characters and no stereotypes, just honest and real people.
“I was the kid who got out, I was a little out of place in my neighborhood. And writing this show created a community beyond my wildest dreams”
With the likes of Christopher Jackson (who played Benny in In the Heights and George Washington in Hamilton) to even Lin Manuel Miranda himself, the reunion of these artists was heartwarming. Most of the original cast was there, replaying memories of how they all first met and the process of creating the show.
Many nostalgic stories were told, including the story of how In the Heights came to be. Lin mentioned that he was a sophomore at Wesleyan University, and when he put on the original In the Heights, everyone there loved it. He said he met “seniors who saw the show and were like “Kid, we’re starting a company when we graduate and we wanna produce your show.”” Of course at the time he didn’t believe them, yet years later “they were as good as their word” and produced the show.
Lin Manuel’s father (who moderated the conversation) asked if anyone remembered any songs that were cut from the show. And there were some real bops that sadly didn’t make it to the final production. Seth Stewart (who played Sonny) expressed his devastation at the fact that one of the songs “Hear Me Out” got cut, and Christopher Jackson even sang a little snippet of it.
Along with the exposure of cut songs, it was revealed that in the original script, the character Nina was supposed to have a brother named Lincoln who would have been played by Javier Muñoz. But Quiara Hudes said that “The plot was a little bit distracting and took away from that essence [of community].” Community is of course the most important aspect of the show, which makes it even more special to see the same community come back these ten years later.
This reunion was a reminder to all who attended that there is still work to be done. That even ten years later there is a real “Blackout” in Puerto Rico, and that now more than ever we need to come together as a community, and raise each other up.