Mary Rosary Flauta | Arts and Entertainment Editor
May 19, 2017 marked the opening night of the Livermore High School spring musical, In the Heights. Hoping to get a good seat, I set out to watch the first musical Lin-Manuel Miranda had ever written.
Upon entering, I noticed the crowds of people who had also come to watch the musical. Most of the seats under the balcony were taken except for some thirty or forty seats to the left. This was a good indication of Miranda’s and his other play, Hamilton’s, popularity.
In the Heights is adapted from a book written by Quiara Alegría Hudes. The setting takes place over the span of three days around a single block in Washington Heights, New York, which has a large population of Latino immigrants. The story follows five main characters: Usnavi (Eric Maravilla, Grade 12), Benny (Christian Webb, Grade 11), Vanessa (Sicily Tufon, Grade 11), Nina (Brittney Bistline, Grade 10), and Kevin Rosario (Al Angeles, Grade 10).
The whole musical was incredibly entertaining and contains a very large concentration of what it’s like to be an immigrant in the United States. There was a smooth balance between the seriousness of moving to a whole new country and the humor that encompasses the relationships formed between characters.
The LHS Orchestra played the complex music composed for the play and they did not disappoint at all. The music created a fantastic ambience for the sure and brought Miranda’s trademark soundtrack to life.
Carol Hovey, LHS drama teacher, said she chose In the Heights because she loves the work of Lin-Manuel Miranda and “can hardly wait to see Hamilton [herself].” In addition, she works with Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre and they had done In the Heights for “the opening of [the] 2016-2017 season.” Hovey also had access to some of their props and costumes, which helped with the LHS show.
Furthermore, she loved the message In the Heights conveyed. “We each have our own immigrant story since the U.S. is a nation of immigrants. It has been fascinating to hear each of our stories as we share them with each other and think about what our family heritage means to us, whether we are first-generation American or our families were here many generations ago.”
The LHS students participating in the play were asked to write immigration stories that were used to understand diversity and cultural differences. According to Hovey, “Our production is Lin-Manuel’s In the Heights, nothing has been changed or added except the rich layers of understanding of all that we share and an appreciation of all the incredible diversity and cultural ‘flavors’ that enliven our lives together.”
When asked about her experience of the play and the immigration stories, Chelsea Warner (Grade 11) exclaimed that she has “been having a lot of fun with the play especially because In The Heights is such an important show about diversity. I think [the immigration stories] made the cast have a better understanding of each other and feel closer and more connected.”
When asked about his role , Justin Beasley (Grade 12) said, “I play Piraguero [who] is a guy who sells shaved ice, which is just snowcones, to everybody. There is a lot of Spanish speaking in it and a lot of Spanish singing, but I get passed it and it’s all really cool.”
As this is her first play, Kayla Claudino (Grade 10) included that the play is, ”Always stressful, but the community and everything really helped push through it. It was a lot of fun and I’m really excited I joined.”
The last performance is Saturday, May 20, 2017. The play was presented on the following days: May 12, 13, 14, 18, and 19. All were at 8 p.m. with the exception of May 14 which is the Mother’s Day Matinee at 2:00 p.m.
Header Credit: Bob Bronzan