Just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month, there is a co-production between Olney Theater in Olney, Maryland and Round House Theater is promoting our beautiful Latin culture with “In the Heights,” the Tony and Grammy award winning musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda. If that name sounds familiar to you, it’s because he is also the creator of Broadway’s “Hamilton,” which is blowing the theater scene off the charts! Let’s face it, there is something very sexy and hot when Latinos sing and dance to our Latin beats and add hip-hop and R&B to the mix to show the marriage of old culture and new world.
“In the Heights,” is about a look into the world of a predominantly Latino area in New York, where Dominicans and Puerto Ricans give that part of the city its Latin flavor. You have the young coffee and convenience shop owner played by Robin de Jesus (Usnavi), the hair salon “chismosas,” the hard working car service owners, the piragua (slushy icy) sales guy, just a typical block in the New York boroughs. The story is told with syncopated hip-hop narration part rap and part spoken word by Usnavi who has the hots for Vanessa (Linedy Genao) but his game is a little lacking for his macking. However, there is much more than just love going on in this piece. There is cultural tension, family feuding when Nina (Mili Diaz) keeps a secret from her parents, a winning lottery ticket that will change somebody’s life for the better, all this with singing and dancing through a story that will play with all of your emotions.
With so much cultural tension and division in this country, as a minority, but especially as an immigrant, you need a performance like this to remind the world how beautiful and incredible our Latin heritage is. I am proud to be a Latina and say that these performers, these singers and dancers and artists are my people. I want the world to see their talent, their flavor, and the culture that we bring to these United States that often forgets that we are a nation of immigrants. Our sounds and music are unique, but also encompassing, because it brings Africa, the Caribbean, and the majority of America together.
This musical is funny, silly, serious, sad, and educational, all at the same time. Despite of the storyline being about Latinos, where in that last description do you see those adjectives specific to a race? Where in those adjectives is culture specific to sadness, or to silliness? The fact is that the events in this musical are relative to every human being. If you have ever fallen in love, then you will love this show. If you have ever been down on your luck, on your finances, then you will relate to “in the Heights” regardless of background, color, or race. This is a story that everyone has lived, “In the Heights” just gives it to you with a sexy Latin twist, one you should not miss!