Janet Dacal to the Rescue! In the Heights Veteran Steps Into Miami-Area Run of Show
By Kenneth Jones
A "whirlwind of a weekend" is how Broadway actress Janet Dacal describes it. On short notice, she flew from Los Angeles to Miami to step into the lead role of Nina Rosario in the Actors' Playhouse production of In the Heights, filling in for an ailing actress. It was a homecoming for the actress: She earned her Equity card at Actors' Playhouse.
Dacal created the role of In the Heights' ditzy salon worker Carla on Broadway and understudied Nina and Vanessa, eventually taking over the role of Nina.
"I received a call from the [Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre] artistic director on Friday morning [March 22], asking if I'd consider coming in to do the show, since their lead had fallen ill," Dacal said in an email. "After minimal contemplation I said, 'Sure, I can be Nina Rosario for the weekend.' Miami is dear to me, so coming back to play this audience with this show was a no-brainer. To look out into Miami's audiences and sing 'I'm Hooome' on an Actors' Playhouse stage, where I get my Equity card, it's truly unbelievable!"
The only issue? "I hadn't played the role in nearly three years!" she wrote. "They put me on the red eye that night, I got in at 7:30 AM, slept a few hours, rehearsed from noon up until half-hour and went on [Saturday night]. It was surreal and I was divinely guided. We are miraculous creatures."
The resident production of the Tony Award-winning musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes began in Coral Gables, FL, March 6. Performances play to April 7. Dacal continued in the role during Sunday's matinee and is also expected to go on for the 8 PM performance this Wednesday, March 27, depending on Amengual's health.
Members of the original Broadway and national tour casts join Miami performers for this resident production. The show is a snapshot of friends, family and lovers in the changing Latino neighborhood in Upper Manhattan.
Sarah Amengual (Broadway's West Side Story, Actors' Playhouse's Next to Normal) originated the role of Nina in this production. It was not immediately clear when she would return to the show.
The principal cast includes Carbonell, Silver Palm, and Silver Knight Award-winning actor Nick Duckart (Actors' Playhouse: Godspell, Joseph..., Next to Normal, The Color of Desire) as Usnavi, Oscar Cheda (first national tour: In the Heights) as Kevin, Marcus Paul James (Broadway: Rent, In the Heights) as Benny, Rayner G. Garranchan (Alliance Theatre Lab's Home Sweet Funeral Home) as Sonny, Doren Montalvo (Broadway: In the Heights) as Abuela Claudia, Christine Prades as Vanessa, Densie Celina Sanchez (TV: "Esta Noche Tu Night," "Sabado Gigante") as Camila, Elise Santora (Broadway: In The Heights, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Capeman, Man of La Mancha, first national tour of In the Heights) as Daniela, Alicia Taylor Tomasko (Broadway: In the Heights) as Carla, Jose-Luis Lopez (Broadway: In the Heights) as Graffiti Pete and Henry Gainza (Actors' Playhouse: Godspell, Spelling Bee) as Piragua Guy.
The ensemble includes Renata Eastlick, Rosie Fiedelman (first national tour of In the Heights), Rebecca Kritzer (first national tour of In The Heights), Dexter Carr (Broadway: Bring It On), Jimmy A. Arguello, Javier Munoz (Broadway: In the Heights), Ivore Rousell and Erika Navarro.
The creative team for Actors' Playhouse's In the Heights includes director David Arisco, choreographer Stephanie Klemmons (based on original choreography by Andy Blankenbeuhler), musical director Manny Schvartzman, assistant director Henry Gainza, scenic designer Sean McClelland, costume designer Ellis Tillman, lighting designer Patrick Tennent and sound designer Alexander Herrin.
For more information, visit actorsplayhouse.org.
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