Lights Up on Javier Muñoz, the New Tour Guide of In the Heights

News   Lights Up on Javier Muñoz, the New Tour Guide of In the Heights
Javier Muñoz rises from the ensemble to be the new grate-keeper of In the Heights' busy bodega starting Feb. 16 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

New In the Heights star Javier Mu
New In the Heights star Javier Mu Photo by Joan Marcus

Muñoz joined In the Heights for a reading in 2005 and has been involved ever since — in the ensemble and as understudy for the lead role of "Usnavi" at the O'Neill Theater Workshop, in the 2007 Off-Broadway run and the current Broadway production.

Usnavi is the hip-hop-friendly Dominican narrator and guide of the romantic musical comedy about the yearning denizens — and the changing face — of the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights.

Tony Award-winning songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda created the role, and was nominated as Best Actor in a Musical for his charismatic turn. Miranda exited the show Feb. 15. The special Monday performance was scheduled for the President's Day holiday.


The musical won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical. Kevin McCollum, Jeffrey Seller and Jill Furman, the producers of the show, announced the casting of the new lead on Jan. 30.

"Javi played Usnavi in those crucial moments when I needed to step out and watch the show as composer," Miranda said in a statement. "He's evolved in tandem with the role and helped me to discover qualities and nuance in this character that I may not have otherwise known. I'm proud to be handing the hat over to such a talented man."

Producer Jill Furman stated, "We didn't need to look beyond the In the Heights family to find our new Usnavi. The role is so ingrained that Javier lives it onstage in a rich and powerful performance, however, his generosity of spirit as a human being is his greatest qualification for the role. The corner bodega could not be in better hands."

Muñoz made his Broadway debut with In the Heights. His Off-Broadway credits include In the Heights, The Porch (Ziad), and the 2006 New York Musical Theater Festival's All Is Love (Yellow Lover). His television work includes Nickelodeon's "Umizumis."

In the Heights currently stars Miranda, Andréa Burns, Janet Dacal, Robin De Jesús, Mandy Gonzalez, Marcy Harriell, Christopher Jackson, Priscilla Lopez, Olga Merediz, Rick Négron and Seth Stewart leading a cast of 28.

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Javier Mu
Javier Mu Photo by Joan Marcus
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