The musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda (music and lyrics) and Pulitzer Prize finalist Quiara Alegria Hudes (book) tells a tale of a tight-knit but changing Latino community at the top of Manhattan. Rewrites and revisions are expected prior to the Broadway bow.
A Broadway theatre and dates for In the Heights have yet to be announced. The new musical will play its final performance Off-Broadway at 37 Arts (450 West 37th Street) on July 15.
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; 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. 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. 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.
"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 will move to Broadway, although casting has not been announced. 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."
At the final performance Off-Broadway, In the Heights will have played 33 preview and 181 regular performances.
Through Sunday, July 15, In the Heights will play the following performance schedule: Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 7 PM, with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM. Matinees at 2 PM have been added on May 30, June 6 and July 11. There will be no performances May 31 at 8 PM, June 5 at 8 PM and July 11 at 8 PM. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com at (212) 307-4100, and are also available at the 37 Arts box office.
For more information, visit www.intheheightsthemusical.com.