Bleu, who starred as Chad Danforth in Disney's "High School Musical" TV trilogy, steps into the role of rap-happy narrator Usnavi, the young northern Manhattan bodega owner originally played by Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, who conceived the show and wrote its score (winning a Tony Award for his songs).
Bleu will play a 13-week run (to April 25) in the romantic musical comedy snapshot of the Latino community of NYC's Washington Heights neighborhood. The show won four 2008 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Miranda won the Tony for Best Score, Andy Blankenbuehler won the 2008 Tony for Best Choreography, and Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Orchestrations. The libretto is by Tony nominee and Pulitzer Prize finalist Quiara Alegría Hudes.
Bleu began 2009 with the release of his second solo album "Speed of Light," an album that reflects an R&B sound. Bleu's feature films include "Catch That Kid," "Soldier," "Galaxy Quest," "Mystery Men" and "Family Tree." His stage credits include the Off-Broadway production of Tiny Tim is Dead and Brothers of the Knight with Debbie Allen. He attended the Debbie Allen Dance Academy and the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts as a theatre major. Bleu was nominated for a 2008 NAACP Image Award for "Best New Artist," is the national spokesperson for the Starlight Children's Foundation and is also involved with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the ONE Foundation.
Bleu joins an In the Heights troupe that includes Andréa Burns, Robin De Jesús, Mandy Gonzalez, Marcy Harriell, Christopher Jackson, Priscilla Lopez, Olga Merediz, Javier Muñoz, Rick Négron, Courtney Reed and William B. Wingfield leading a cast of 28 that features Tony Chiroldes, Dwayne Clark, Rosie Lani Fiedelman, Ruben Flores, Marcus Paul James, Nina Lafarga, Jennifer Locke, Doreen Montalvo, Gabrielle Ruiz, Luis Salgado, Kevin Santos, Rickey Tripp, Michael Balderrama, Blanca Camacho, Stephanie Klemons, Allison Thomas Lee, Alejandra Reyes, Jon Rua and Marcos Santana.
In the Heights began previews on Broadway Feb. 14, 2008, after a six-month award-winning 2007 Off-Broadway run. The musical opened on Broadway March 9, 2008, recouped its $10 million investment in ten months and won a 2008 Grammy Award for the original cast album. In November 2008, Universal Pictures acquired the rights to produce a feature film based on In the Heights. A national tour is currently playing. Tickets for In the Heights range from $41.50 to $121.50, and can be purchased at the Richard Rodgers box office on West 46th Street or at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information visit www.intheheightsthemusical.com.