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Renan Teodoro de Barros

Dr. Aintzane Legarreta

Musical Theatre History

27 February 2018

The Emotion Of Politics In The Heights

In this essay I will discuss about how emotion and politics are treated in the musical In

The Heights. The musical due to discussion made history in stages all around the world and it is

highly supported by the audience and critics, some of the themes touched by the musical include

racism, immigration, the american dream, difficulties of latin people in America and its perks. I

will divide this essay into exploring In The Heights as a piece of new inventive musical,

exploring it into a political side and also making explicit how the emotion is used throughout the


I will start off with the concept of the show and how it all started so we can have a better

understanding of what the show brought to the broadway scene and then I will link it to Emotion

and Politics. In The Heights is a musical with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda with a

first draft in 1999, Lin wrote it in his sophomore year in university and after its acceptance by the

student theatre company and being performed for 3 days, it caught the attention of senior

members in the University, who saw the musical as a opportunity to hit the Broadway


In 2002 Lin revisited the show with the help of 2 seniors of his university including

Thomas Kail, who would become the director of the show later on, and wrote 5 different drafts

it shows the audience the course of 3 days in Washington Heights focusing on the neighborhood/barrio composed by the Hispanic-Americans.000 dollars in the loto soon and the importance of each one of the characters is stressed in the opening sequence and the strength of the barrio is highlighted in the finale. is among the most galvanizing opening numbers in recent Broadway memory. for instance. The songs are perfect to give background information about the characters and justify their position in the show. We get to see parties in barrio such as Carnaval Del Barrio. as Usnavi gives the audience a guided tour. 2 of the story. of the troubles that nip at the heels and the hopes that feed the imaginations of the neighborhood’s inhabitants. In The Heights addresses this subject in a very clever manner. Lin Manuel Miranda is mostly Puerto Rican descent which gives him even more power to address such subjects as the life of immigrants and its consequences. it does not tax the audience with unimportant information. in briskly flowing rap. their celebration of knowing someone might get 96. the predominant music is rap which was revolutionary as there was no such thing on broadway. in 2004 the writer of the book Quiara Alegría Hudes joined the creative team for the show and in 2005 a new version of In The Heights was presented in Connecticut and consequently opening off-broadway in 2007 being indicated for 9 Drama Desk Awards and winning 2 of them leading to their great opening on Broadway the following year. (Isherwood. Charles Isherwood stresses the use of the title song which is also the opening of the show: “The title song.2008)” The musical is staged in the barrio with all the houses and the bodega. The story of In The Heights is quite concise but that does not mean it is not deep and character focused. on the hand his style of composition gives you depth on the characters background and then it .

what I spent most of my childhood wondering. all the difficulties with the language. the character Nina. that are immigrants themselves or descend from them. finding new opportunities and most importantly finding where they belong. The cast was full of Latinos on stage. “What does it mean to be Puerto Rican if you don’t live in Puerto Rico? Or Dominican if you don’t live in the Dominican Republic?”. In the song When You’re Home. you know. in the orchestra and that was a great decision to make as to tell the story of immigrants in New York using professionals that know what it feels like. reflects on her childhood thoughts by singing: “When I was younger. I’d imagine what would happen If my parents had stayed in Puerto Rico Who would I be if I had never seen Manhattan If I lived in Puerto Rico with my people My people! (In The Heights Original Broadway Cast. That question of finding home is not only a geographical one but really an emotional one of. This decision for casting also gave the opportunity to showcase those artists that mainly stayed in the background as forgettable ensemble. 3 feeds you with plausible information on how they came to America. which is the first one in her family to be able to go to University. off stage. That line is. The casting of the musical was also a great surprise as there was no whitewash in the cast. . like. why they did it. 2008)” Miranda in interview to PBS explains that this lyrics are “one of the most autobiographical sections of the show.

The focus of the musical it is not whether they are illegal immigrants or not. which shows us the conditions of their travel and the non existent knowledge of English. . it is made clear by the storyline that a great part of the barrio in Washington Heights is composed of immigrants and it is implied that their arrival in the country was not proper. Abuela Claudia and Usnavi are then represented in an open statement of how immigration worked in the past and how it still happens daily. Usnavi. is that at the marquee of the Richard Rodgers Theatre you could find a full body poster of one of the ensemble members from the show in a powerful moment of the show. how difficult it was to find your place somewhere you do not feel welcomed. consequently it got cancelled due to massive negative responses from the acting community and people aware of what the show has as a message. but it is definitely something that jumps out during the performance. the leading character was named after their parents came from the Dominican Republic in a ship written US Navy. the american dream is still real and drives people’s lives. She delivers the heartful lyrics of the song Paciencia Y Fe in which she describes how was her early life in New York. this served as one of the main poster for the advertisement of the show. Abuela Claudia is always mentioning Havana and how she always wanted to go back to her roots with her family but never got the money for it. As in a political viewing of the show. His parents then settle in Washington Heights opening a Bodega. 4 The casting of this musical opened doors for performers that are of mixed background to get work in the industry and a great example of how the performers had such an important space for it. The Australian production of the show casted a predominantly white cast.

As an actor I feel the difficult of seeing myself in most parts I would love to play. his works are not only focused on showcasing great Latinx actors but focused in storytelling stripping off all kinds of predisposition for characters to be played by the faces and bodies that the great media shows us every day. he makes sure that people like me get a chance to perform it. move and leave everything I know behind to seek a dream. To be cast and to be featured. because I do not feel represented on stage as often as I would like to be and the shows Lin Manuel Miranda is involved in. 5 The intrinsec political subjects in the show are not there for granted.” . He has changed musical theatre and has inspired people from all over the world and I have the honour to say that I am one of them as the opening of In The Heights says “ I’m a streetlight choking on the heat. In conclusion Lin Manuel Miranda has been an example of how musical theatre is able to spread important messages and represent all kinds of people. which the focus is completely political but not without a great storytelling and his fast paced rap tunes. Lin Manuel Miranda is involved and aware of politics in US and in this show he presents it with a more disguised appearance but raises awareness to it in many points of the show. having my difficulties to learn English. some years later he would write Hamilton: An American Musical. I honestly have not felt as represented in musical theatre as an immigrant. West Side Story has done it in the past but in all honesty it does not appeal to me as much as In The Heights does.

playbill.” ​PBS​. Charles. 2013. Hudes Quiara Alegría. The New York Times. . “The View From Uptown: American Dreaming to a Latin Beat. 2008. Public Broadcasting Service. In the Heights: the Complete Book and Lyrics of the Broadway Musical​. “Australian Production of In the Heights Canceled After Whitewashing Casting Controversy. www. Accessed 10 March 2018. Adam. Applause Theatre. ​In the Heights: Richard Rodgers Theatre​. 9 Mar. PLAYBILL INC. www.nytimes. hing-casting-controversy.” ​Playbill​. Accessed 10 March 2018. 30 Sept.pbs. 2017. 6 Works Cited Hetrick. Accessed 10 March 2018.html.” ​The New York Times​.com/2008/03/10/theater/reviews/10heig. Playbill Incorporated.. Isherwood. and Louis Botto. Ross. Cinema Books. et al. “Lin-Manuel Miranda. 2010.