Playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is originally from Washington Heights, conceived the hip-hop and salsa-inflected musical In the Heights as a sophomore at Wesleyan. After graduating, the show caught the eye of the producers behind RENT and Avenue Q. It opened off-Broadway to rave reviews, won tons of awards, and the rest, as they say, is Broadway history. Now that play has been adapted into a movie directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians, Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D, Now You See Me 2). Check out the first trailer below.
The musical unfolds over the course of three days in Washington Heights. Anthony Ramos stars as bodega owner Usnavi, the role originally played by Miranda; Miranda instead plays Piraguero, the owner of a small piragua stand whose treats rival that of Mister Softee. The film also stars Corey Hawkins, Jimmy Smits, Melissa Barrera, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Dascha Polanco and Stephanie Beatriz.
Way back in 2008, Miranda told us about his inspiration for the show: "There were a couple. The first song I wrote is called 'Never Give Your Heart Away.' It came out of a conversation with a Latino friend of mine. At the time I was in a long-term relationship and my friend was sort of your classic player. And he was telling me what his mom told him as a kid: 'Never let a woman play you; play them first!' And I remember thinking about what a fucked up life lesson that is. I wrote that song on the subway from West 4th Street, riding back to my home on 200th Street, imagining a mother imparting that lesson to her son. That character ended up becoming Benny. At the time I had been toying with the idea of writing a full-length musical and I kept doodling the words In the Heights over and over in my astronomy notebook in school."
The movie will be released on June 26th, 2020.