|Photo by Joan Marcus|
Lost in the moment is how most of the cast described the evening. Robin de Jesus, Tony-nominated for his performance as Sonny in Heights, said, "Tonight was like magic. It was like Cinderella at the end [of Into the Woods] going, 'I wish!'"
He continued, "You have moments of feeling like you're totally with it, and you have other moments where you [think], 'What the f*ck is happening right now?!' to the point where you almost have to tell yourself [to] come back… You're present but you're not present. It's really, really weird, but it's just [so] wonderful. Watching Mandy [Gonzalez] sing 'Everything I Know,' and to approach that song [now] as a mother…! Since we've left the show, we've had marriages, we've had relationships, breakups, we've had babies born, we've had some people start businesses — like [Stephanie Klemons], one of the cast members, is my writing partner now [on an upcoming self-help book to musical theatre]. There's just so much that's changed, and so to come back and approach the show now with the many new versions of ourselves, it's really fascinating and really great."
"I think that all of us have grown up a lot since being on Broadway, so everything means something different now — it's a lot deeper — and that's just what was happening for me in that moment," said original Nina, Mandy Gonzalez, of revisiting "Everything I Know," the emotional ballad dedicated to the character of Abuela (there was not a dry eye in Washington Heights following the number).
The evening also included audience participation in parts — encouraging shout-outs, the emergence of iPhone lights during "Blackout" and the raising of Puerto Rican and Dominican Republic flags during "Carnaval del Barrio" — as well as songs that were cut from the show when it made the transfer from Off-Broadway to Broadway. Doreen Montalvo performed "Siempre," and Christopher Jackson sang "Hear Me Out."
When the sun went down, as they say in the show, on Washington Heights and the United Palace Theatre, various Heights alum were invited to the stage for a finale and encore. The words "I'm home" never resonated so strongly, and, yet again, hopes and dreams seemed palpable in upper Manhattan.
On the night, Burns added, "For all of us to congregate in one space and celebrate together — audience and performers — it was just this communion…and beautiful."
(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)
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