School of the Arts

In the Heights

In the Heights logo

California State University, Chico’s School of the Arts presents the Tony Award-winning hip-hop musical In the Heights as this season’s spring musical. Performances are Thursday–Saturday, April 30–May 2, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday–Sunday, May 2–3, at 2 p.m. in Laxson Auditorium. Purchase tickets at the University Box Office or by calling 530-898-6333.

The struggling residents of a Hispanic community in the Washington Heights district of New York are on the brink of change. Usnavi, a young bodega owner, dreams of going back to his native country, the Dominican Republic. Vanessa, whom Usnavi longs to date, works in the beauty salon and struggles to put a down payment on a new apartment. Meanwhile, the Rosario’s are grappling with funding the Ivy League education of their daughter, Nina, and with disagreements about her relationship with Benny. When it is discovered that a $96,000 winning lottery ticket was sold at the bodega, the prospect of changing the livelihoods of the people and the community hangs in the air.

In the Heights is a Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. The musical was first conceptualized by Miranda, who wrote the first draft in 1999 as a sophomore in college. The work contained freestyle rap, bodegas, and salsa numbers and was accepted to be performed at Wesleyan University’s student theater company, Second Stage. Miranda was approached by John Buffalo Mailer, Neil Patrick Stewart, Anthony Veneziale, and Thomas Kail, two Weslayan seniors and two alumni who had seen the show, with a vision to expand the musical for Broadway. In 2002, Miranda began working with Kail on the musical. Alegría Hudes was added to the team in 2004.

In 2005, In the Heights premiered at Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut. Kail was the show’s director and Alex Lacamoire was the music director. In 2007, the musical’s Off-Broadway run began. Kail and Lacamoire retained their positions and Andy Blankenbuehler was the choreographer. The production was nominated for nine Drama Desk Awards and won Outstanding Ensemble and Outstanding Choreography. 

In the Heights opened on Broadway in 2008 at the Richard Rogers Theatre. The directors and choreographer were the same as the Off-Broadway production and many of the principle characters retained their roles. The musical was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won four (Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography, and Best Orchestrations). It also won a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album. The musical closed in 2011 after 29 previews and 1,184 regular performances.

Since then, there has been a North American tour and international productions in several Latin American countries, the Philippines, Japan, the UK, Germany, South Korea, Canada, and Denmark. In 2017, the first Spanish version opened in the United States. Although it had been performed in Spanish in other countries, this was the first Spanish translation sanctioned and approved by Miranda. Coming in summer 2020 is a Warner Bros. Pictures film adaptation of In the Heights

The critique of the musical In the Heights has been positive. The New York Times stated, “when this musical erupts in one of its expressions of collective joy, the energy it gives off could light up the George Washington Bridge for a year or two.” Variety said, “That depth of feeling, together with the wit of Miranda's lyrics, the playful dexterity of his rhymes, his dynamic score and a bunch of truly winning performances, make the show an uncalculated charmer.” New York Magazine wrote, “A groundbreaking 21st-century musical. This extraordinary blend of old and new pushes the sound of Broadway even deeper into fresh territory. It’s one of the most satisfying musicals in years.”