Entertainment What you need to know about In the Heights — Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical before Hamilton

23:35  10 june  2021
23:35  10 june  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda's first Broadway show is finally making it to the big screen.

In the Heights, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical when it debuted in 2008, was Miranda's big hit before he wrote Hamilton.

It is praised for its upbeat songs, moving story and diverse characters that reflect the lives of Latin American people without using harmful stereotypes.

The movie adaptation of In the Heights will be released in Australian cinemas for advanced screenings on Friday, June 11, ahead of the wider release on Thursday, June 24.

So before you brush up on your Español (Spanish), here's your spoiler-free guide to the film.

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What is In the Heights about?

In the Heights is about the people struggling to make a living in the working-class Latinx barrio (neighbourhood) of Washington Heights in New York City.

There's Usnavi, who owns a run-down bodega (store) and employs his self-assured younger cousin Sonny.

Usnavi is in love with Vanessa but she desperately wants to move out of the neighbourhood.

Usnavi also looks out for his Abuela (grandmother) — she's not actually his grandmother but the matriarch who raised the children in the area.

His best friend Benny works at the local car service company and dreams of being a successful businessman.

The company is owned by Mr Rosario, who does everything he can to keep his daughter Nina studying at the prestigious Stanford University.

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Things start to change when someone wins $96,000 in the lottery.

Is Lin-Manuel Miranda in the movie?

Yes. While Lin-Manuel Miranda played Usnavi in the Broadway show, he appears in the movie as the Piragua man (piragua is a Puerto Rican dessert of shaved ice with sugar syrup).

In the movie, Usnavi is played by Anthony Ramos, who Hamilton fans will recognise from his split roles as John Laurence and Philip Hamilton.

Ramos has also played Usnavi in a stage production of In the Heights.

Christopher Jackson, who was George Washington in the original Hamilton cast and Benny in the Heights' Broadway run, also makes a brief cameo as Piragua man's rival Mister Softee.

Who else is in the movie?

Stephanie Beatriz, best known for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, plays a very different character to her tough cop persona Rosa as the local hairdresser Carla.

Olga Merediz reprises in her role as Abuela Claudia, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award.

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Jimmy Smits, from NYPD Blue and Star Wars, stars as Kevin Rosario, and The Walking Dead actor Corey Hawkins has one of the leading roles as Benny.

Daphne Rubin-Vega, who was Mimi in the musical Rent's original Broadway run, plays beauty salon owner Daniela alongside Orange Is the New Black actress Dascha Polanco, as Cuca.

Latin Grammy nominee Leslie Grace makes her global film debut as Nina, as does up-and-coming Mexican actress Melissa Barrera as Vanessa.

The film was directed by Jon M Chu, who also directed the book-to-film adaption Crazy Rich Asians.

Is the movie different to the musical?

The film adaptation of In the Heights has several changes that add to characters' stories and reflect contemporary problems.

It addresses the political reality many immigrant-strong neighbourhoods face with references to the undocumented people known as Dreamers being kicked out.

The characters also experience microaggressions — racial discrimination that manifests in everyday interactions.

Carla and Daniela have also been changed so they are both business and life partners.

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Beatriz, who plays Carla and is queer, said it was gratifying to see the relationship be part of the fabric of the community in the film.

"So much of this film is about where home is and who home is to you," Beatriz said.

"For Carla, Daniela is home.

"It's just a happy, functioning relationship that happens to be gay."

Miranda told entertainment magazine Variety that characters and songs had to be trimmed to fit the movie's two hours and 23 minute run time.

A line that has not aged well since the musical debuted on Broadway in 2008 has also been changed.

Here's the original lyric from the song 96,000 when Benny sings about what he'd do if he won the lottery:

"I'll be a businessman richer than Nina's daddy. Donald Trump and I on the links, and he's my caddy".

In the movie, the lyric is changed from Donald Trump to Tiger Woods.

I saw Hamilton first, will I like In the Heights?

In the Heights showcases Miranda's signature rap-style Broadway songwriting, so if that's what you liked about Hamilton, there's a good chance you'll like this too.

Its songs are upbeat, catchy and mix English and Spanish lyrics in a way that's authentic to the community it speaks about.

And if you need a reason to see, the best one comes from director Chu, who has described the film as a "vaccine for your soul".

To fair-skinned? Criticism of musical filming "in the Heights"

 To fair-skinned? Criticism of musical filming © Warner Bros. were occupied in "in the Heights" with Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera too few Afro-Latinos? Criticism on the musical film was criticized on the Internet. will be a few dark-skinned Latinos in the musical film "in The Heights"? This reproach came after the US theatrical release. The responsible persons comment. actually wanted "in the Heights" as a surpular correctly against the underrepresentation of Latinos in Hollywood and was even with this intention.

Early reviews of the movie overwhelmingly praise the adaptation.

In the Heights is being released on HBO Max at the same time as the cinema release in the United States on June 11, however that streaming service is not available in Australia.

If you want a sneak peek, the original Broadway soundtrack is available on music streaming services.

Or you can watch the original Broadway cast's performance at the 2008 Tony Awards when Lin-Manuel Miranda starred in the lead role long before he was Hamilton.

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