The latest teasers for the adaptation of the movie musical screened last Saturday and followed with a conversation with the director, Jon M. Chu, writers and producers Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes, and the cast.
“Hey y’all, good morning,” Anthony Ramos (Usnavi de la Vega) brightly starts off the newest trailer for the film adaptation to the Tony and Grammy winning musical “In The Heights.” The latest trailers bring a refreshing look into the neighborhood of Washington Heights through large musical numbers and smooth Latin dance. In 2008, the musical premiered on Broadway, and became a sensation for its vibrant representation of Latin American Culture. Several years later, it’s here to light up our homes on HBO Max and in theaters June 11th. Along with the release of these teasers, a special Q&A was held with the cast and crew.
Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the screenplay and the original book, discussed the creation, importance, and impact of “In the Heights” during its days on Broadway along with how she revived something created for theater into a different experience. “It just gave me an opportunity to go deeper into their dreams and to put us in the places that these people are divided. They don’t know where is home, they have multiple homes, and so we can go to those places. We can go to other spots in the community that are beloved. It was a beautiful big playground to to go have fun and creative,” said Hudes.
When it first debuted on Broadway, “In the Heights” became an anthem for dreamers. With its revival on screen and in today’s climate, the message of dreaming is more than necessary. De la Vega spends the film saving up money towards a better life. He struggles not only with this, but a divided love for the Heights and the Dominican Republic. For De la Vega, and many characters the “struggle in the barrio,” takes a toll on the community, but also brings them even closer. Ramos stated, “Everybody in this movie has a dream and we see how each person individually goes after those things and how they go about that. Along with the obstacles that are presented to them that may prevent them from getting these things right, but this community not just one character, all of them persevere and make a way for themselves.”
Community was a subject of great meaning across the cast and crew. Many spoke of the communities they grew up in, and how it translated into their role in the film. Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda based the play on his own experience growing up in a predominantly Hispanic community similar to Washington Heights. “The whole thing is a love letter to this neighborhood that I think is such an incredible neighborhood,” said Miranda. “In the Heights,” may be a story of a neighborhood in Manhattan, but the story’s spread across the globe with productions in Japan, Australia, Panama, Brazil, South Korea, and the Philippines. Miranda embraced the connection “In the Heights” brings to people of all walks of life. “Through the specificity of this story, there’s a universality that’s undeniable,” said Miranda.
All aspects of the musical numbers are exaggerated, but the emotions the characters bring within the trailer makes the film appear real. The cast including; Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Melissa Barrera, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, and Jimmy Smits, make their characters feel real through the immense and talent they’ve brought to the film. Director Jon M. Chu stressed the need of having a cast that was gifted along with diverse. Chu stated, “we wanted a cast that was of all walks of life, all colors, all shapes, all ages, that could sing, that could dance, and that could bring truth to these characters. That is not an easy thing to find.”
To close off the panel, the cast was asked about what they hoped audiences got from the film. Leslie Grace (Nina Rosario) spoke on the film being a beacon of hope for anyone who’s felt lost in the past year. “I would love the audience to just come out feeling happier and lighter. I feel like we need it in this time, and his is exactly the kind of movie that people are gonna need to watch as soon as the world opens up. We’ve been through a lot, and I think this movie is gonna be exactly the medicine that we all need in this moment,” said Grace.
“In The Heights” is set to be released on June 11, 2021 by Warner Bros. HBO Max will also be streaming on the same date.