‘For the culture’: The moment arrives for ‘In the Heights’
NEW YORK (AP) — As a student at Wesleyan, Lin-Manuel Miranda began writing what would become “In the Heights,” the musical that would launch him as a playwright and performer and that would lead, two decades later, to Jon M. Chu’s upcoming lavish big-screen adaptation. He was motivated, like any confident young artist, by ambition. But also by something else.
“It was a lot of fear, honestly,” Miranda said in a recent interview. “I had a real wake-up call when I was 18, 19 and starting to study theater. The fear was: I’m going into a field that has no space for me, that has no roles for me. It was sort of that thing of: No one’s going to write your dream show. The cavalry isn’t coming.”
When “In the Heights” opens Friday, it may feel very much like reinforcements are arriving. The movie, a street-level song-and-dance spectacle to rival the MGM musicals of old, is an exuberant celebration of the Latino immigrant experience, of a diverse neighborhood, of a teeming summertime New York, of life.
“In the Heights,” originally slated to be released last June, arrives already engulfed with the aura of cultural event for one of the movies’ most blatantly underseen communities. And as a big-screen party, “In the Heights” is poised to rekindle the euphoric, dancing-the-aisles theatrical experience that’s been all but snuffed out over the past year. Just how much can “In the Heights” lift up? “It’s a lot,” Miranda sighs, “to put on a musical.”
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