"Good Lord… I'm really, honestly quite speechless," confessed Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony-winning songwriter and star of In the Heights, following the highly anticipated reunion concert — which benefited The Broadway League's Family First Nights, a nationwide program designed to encourage at-risk families to attend theatre on a regular basis, and local arts programs in Washington Heights — at the United Palace of Cultural Arts in Washington Heights. (Viva Broadway, an initiative of the Broadway League, presented the evening.)
Miranda, who garnered a deafening applause from the moment he took center stage at the 3,400-seat theatre — and again, as he placed the signature flat cap on his head, embodying the life of charismatic bodega owner Usnavi — seemed to be the only one without words at In the Heights: In Concert. In fact, family, friends and fans who populated the United Palace on 175th Street often sang — or rapped — along to the iconic score that took Broadway by storm five years earlier.
"This is a family, and we just absolutely adore each other, so to revisit this music and have everybody come and celebrate this piece that we all adore, and see how it's affected our community, and to be able to present this in Washington Heights…and for this cause, it's just all plus, plus, plus, win, win, win," Janet Dacal, who originated the role of salon worker Carla, told Playbill.com at the swank In the Heights after-party held at the The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. "You just saw people mouthing the words or singing the words along with us!"
Before the music began, however, Miranda assured that all theatregoers outside the United Palace — who stood in a will-call line that, according to the massive outpour on Twitter, stretched four blocks — would be seated. "We had trouble seating everyone because it was such a crazy line," explained Miranda. "It was around the block, so I ran around the block and said, 'We're not starting until you're all seated!'"
("I didn't know that," interjected original Daniela, Andréa Burns, "that's beautiful!")
Miranda continued, "It was just the best way to start because it was just like a love fest — beginning to end."
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