In the Heights Ends Off-Broadway Run July 15, But Will Hip-Hop to Broadway

News   In the Heights Ends Off-Broadway Run July 15, But Will Hip-Hop to Broadway In the Heights, the hip-hop and salsa-infused Off-Broadway musical about denizens of the uptown Manhattan 'hood of Washington Heights, ends a six-month run July 15, prior to a wider life on Broadway.

In the Heights, with Mandy Gonzales and Christopher Jackson, ends its run Off-Broadway.
In the Heights, with Mandy Gonzales and Christopher Jackson, ends its run Off-Broadway. Photo by Joan Marcus

As previously announced, producers Kevin McCollum, Jeffrey Seller and Jill Furman are moving the show — after rewrites by composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda and librettist Quiara Alegria Hudes — to a Broadway house in 2007-08.

The musical, which also features spirited Miranda as Usnavi, the show's Dominican narrator and guide, tells a tale of a tight-knit but changing Latino community at the top of Manhattan. The show has managed to reach a wide range of theatregoers — traditionalists and pop fans alike.

Tickets for the final weekend of the run were hard to snag. The final Sunday night show at 37 Arts (450 West 37th Street) is sold out.

At the final performance Off-Broadway, In the Heights will have played 33 previews and 181 regular performances.

Since launching in January at 37 Arts, in far-west midtown, the musical has lured both a traditional and a non-traditional audience — including a younger and Latino crowd, for starters. A commercial move for the show is seen as part of a tradition for which Seller and McCollum are known — they listen for new sounds that will attract fresh audiences to American musicals. Seller and McCollum brought Rent and Avenue Q to Broadway, in turn luring younger audiences to the form; both shows won the Tony Award for Best Musical.

In addition to penning the score, which overflows with pop power ballads, dance numbers, rap riffs and varied odes to the characters' tropic roots, Miranda plays the Dominican narrator and hero, Usnavi, who runs a bodega where the coffee is light and sweet. Observers have called his work one of the great performances of the New York season; for his acting, he snagged a 2007 Theatre World Award and Equity's Clarence Derwent Award. As the show's writer, he won the Obie Award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics.

Miranda is expected to make the move to Broadway. Full casting has not been announced.

In the Heights is directed by commercial newcomer Thomas Kail, who was entrusted with helping to shape the underdog show that was first presented as an undergraduate musical at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Kail and Miranda are Wesleyan alumni (they graduated in different years), but Kail came to the material after its developmental collegiate start.

There is still work to be done on the show, according to the producers. The six-month, de-facto "tryout" Off-Broadway proved instructive. Hudes and Miranda have been at work on the property in recent weeks, though the Off-Broadway version was "frozen." No cast album was released, apparently in anticipation of changes to the material.

The current In the Heights company includes Andréa Burns, Janet Dacal, Robin De Jesús, Mandy Gonzalez, John Herrera, Christopher Jackson, Priscilla Lopez, Olga Merediz, Karen Olivo, Seth Stewart and Rosie Lani Fiedelman, Asmeret Ghebremichael, Joshua Henry, Nina Lafarga, Doreen Montalvo, Javier Muñoz, Eliseo Roman, Luis Salgado, Rickey Tripp, Michael Balderrama, Stephanie Klemons, Michelle Rios, Shaun Taylor-Corbett.

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"Over the past six months we have had the luxury of time to gain insight to what needs to be done to move In the Heights to the next step, which will be Broadway," McCollum said in a statement. "Since Lin-Manuel Miranda both stars in In the Heights and is the composer and lyricist, we have elected to close the show so our full creative team will have the time to do the work that now needs to be done. In essence our engagement at 37 Arts can be considered our six-month out-of-town, in town, tryout."

Furman added, "It's a rare opportunity to take a show that's playing successfully, put it back into rehearsal and give it new birth. The entire team is thrilled," stated Jill Furman.

Seller added, "Of all the shows we've been involved with In the Heights attracts the widest audience — parents are bringing their children, schools are buying out entire houses at matinees and senior citizens are coming and connecting to the show as well. Time will only tell how deep our audiences are, but judging by our experience we think they're pretty wide. Here's a show that has attracted everyone from the hard-to-get Latino audience to the essential Jewish audience. Playing in a Broadway house will mean we can offer ticket prices that virtually anyone can afford."

The Off-Broadway creative team (including Tony Award-nominated scenic designer Anna Louizos) is expected to move to Broadway. Choreography is by Andy Blankenbuehler. Alex Lacamoire is music director and music arrangements are by Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman.

Here's how the producers bill the show: "In the Heights is a quintessential New York musical about a vibrant and tight-knit community at the top of the island of Manhattan. The music pulses with the hopes and dreams of three generations as they struggle to forge an identity in a neighborhood on the brink of transition."

For more information, visit www.intheheightsthemusical.com.

The cast of <i>In the Heights</i>, which is closing prior to a Broadway transfer.
The cast of In the Heights, which is closing prior to a Broadway transfer. Photo by Joan Marcus
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