Monday, September 26, 2016

In the Heights

Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Quiara Alegría Hudes.
Directed by Michael Bello
Produced by The Gallery Players

Nominated for: Outstanding Director, Michael Bello

Photo by Scott Cally & Bella Muccari

About the Production
In the Heights is a vibrant, touching, and thought-provoking musical that tells the story of the changing cultural landscape of Washington Heights. It makes us ask, what is home? We follow a young bodega owner, Usnavi, his cousin, and the rest of the neighborhood as they navigate the times in Washington Heights. This modern musical engages the audience, and makes them consider their own role in their families, their neighborhood community and in all of New York City.

Director Michael Bello and Producer Jonathan-Bruce King talk about staging with modern musical that is a true celebration of New York.


What attracted you to this production?

Michael: As a Cuban-American theater artist In The Heights holds very special meaning to me. More personally, my grandparents and father immigrated from Havana, Cuba to 183rd Street in 1952, my parents met on the 181st St A stop that was upstage left, and I was born in Washington Heights. My family and I saw the show off-Broadway and Broadway, I saw the National Tour in Boston the day after my Abuela passed away, and it was the only Broadway musical by grandfather and I ever saw together. The story of In The Heights is one that speaks to me in a profound way and has a very special place in my heart. After working on the show, it became clear from the amazing group of Latino/a artists that gathered around the piece that Lin Manuel Miranda's writing spoke to us all and each of our family's culture, sacrifices, communities and love. When The Gallery Players asked me to return to the theater, after directing last year's NY It Awards nominated Next to Normal, I simply couldn't pass up the chance to bring my family and my culture to life on stage.

Jonathan-Bruce: I wanted to work on this musical because it explores a wonderful concept: what is home in the face of adversity? The theater wanted to explore the concepts of the play given the changing backdrop of our part of Park Slope. We have seen so much change in the past few years, the bodega is now a juice bar, starbucks and artisan coffee have opened up, and rents have risen astronomically. It is a musical about Washington Heights, but it could be about Park Slope.
Photo by Scott Cally & Bella Muccari

What did you want the audience to come away with after watching is production of In the Heights?

Jonathan-Bruce: I hope the audience came away with a sense of what home was to them, how their choices in living and life affect others, and how to find home within themselves.

What was your favorite part of this production?

Jonathan-Bruce: I loved working with an amazing cast and crew. Everyone had some kind of connection to the neighborhood or the culture, and were so excited to bring these characters to life.

What was the most challenging aspect of this production?

Jonathan-Bruce: This is a very big musical, and a very realistic musical. We had to make sure we were firmly rooted in realism but also could stay within budget.
Photo by Scott Cally & Bella Muccari

What was it like working with Michael Bello?

Jonathan-Bruce: Michael Bello is an incredibly adept and skillful director. His vision and specificity showed throughout the production and led to a cohesive, well thought out, and enthralling production.

You can follow The Gallery Players on Twitter - @tgpbrooklyn

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