In the Heights

What a line up we have for our 8th Season of Live & About!  And what better way to kick off the season than with the already sold- out, break-out show by the man who has taken Broadway by storm for his Hamilton, winning accolades from critics and colleagues alike. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights could not be a more timely production for our country in turmoil, and this production sheds light on so many issues that feel of this moment.

These were some of our group’s first emotional impressions:  “relatable,” “big tears,” “lots of heart,” “showing us the American dream,” “achieving something specific, it becomes universal,” and  “investing in a street corner as community and discovering what is worth keeping,”

Everyone was thrilled by the brilliant choreography and how it kept moving the story telling.

As always, our discussion starts with an interpretive question or two so that we might wrestle with the creator’s intentions.

Please weigh in on these and continue the discussion…

According to this show, does Lin-Manuel Miranda believe that for this community “patiencia y faith” or diligent hard work are more important?

Why does Sonny give his bundle of money to Grafitti Pete to paint the mural of Abuela Claudia?

7 comments on “In the Heights”

  1. Michael Feldman

    The striking takeaway was the role of art – in the form of music and the mural – in preserving the community in the face of challenges and change.

  2. Robert Darling

    The production wonderfully stepped into a magic theatrical space seeming real, honest, hopeful and probing central ideas about America. The use of many musical languages to tell the story, and the brilliant dancing kept it alive, entertaining and connecting to us in the audience.
    When Sonny gave his money to Graffitti Pete, standing in the shadow of the Subway entrance, I worried initially we were about to stumble into a negative “drug culture”. The wisdom of the creators however, was to affirm the center of their affirming message — on several levels — the community was vital, embellishing it with art would ground the very best of the community, support one of its own talented members and remember one of its cherished members. Celebrating the creative talent potential Sonny knew Graffiti Pete possessed, would uplift everyone, art could strengthen the community — even as it changes. An exceptional evening in the theater — bravi tutti!

  3. Catherine Lincoln

    My reading of Sonny’s gift to Graffiti Pete is two-fold–Sonny’s recognition of Pete that he’s not just a graffiti tagger, but a true artist who can express the community’s heritage, and Sonny’s outgrowing of rebelliousness (bucking his cousin-boss, wanting to launch a trade union) and maturing as a leader in his own right.

  4. Ari Jacobson

    One point that really interested me, nestled like a Matryoshka doll inside the larger distrust and rejection the mostly hispanic community faced in dealing with the larger american world, was the distrust and reluctance of the car service owner to fully accept his black employee. Much was made of the employee’s inability to speak spanish, and even though he had worked at the company for five years (a lifetime to a 19 year old), when the idea was raised of him crossing a line into greater involvement with the business, or PERSONAL involvement with the owner’s daughter, the hackles went up.

    It can be easy to make simplistic tales of the good oppressed fighting the bad oppressors (see Sonny’s impassioned, revolutionary evocation of the then-current Occupy Wall Street movement), but the more subtle point (and one more impressive to see so effectively dramatized) is how oppressed people, out of necessity, can retreat to the safety and support of insular communities only to find themselves unthinkingly enacting the same exclusionary walls themselves against other communities.

  5. Melinda

    Sunny gave his money to Graffiti Pete so he would establish something of permanence , along with honoring Abuelita. I agree with Duane and Kay that it is patiencia and faith. Hard work did not seem to be rewarded, but community was. Each character does something because of or for the community. Though our post play discussion didn’t think they would necessarily stay together after the developer came.

    The use of the money was to reward or celebrate the gifts of each member, just as Abuelita had.

  6. Kay

    In some ways I agree with Duane. The ” big break” came, not through consistent hard work but winning the lottery. Is this a rather unfortunate aspect of the “American Dream” though, luring so many poor people in to gamble?
    On the other hand, Usnavi keeps on keeping on with his shop — even after winning the lottery, even trading in his airplane ticket out of the barrio. Nina also comes back after defeat to get back into college — clearly facing a lot of hard work to overcome disadvantages.
    The whole piece comes across as a happy, crowded, noisy conversation in the struggle to figure out what America stands for and how do people, coming from other places, fit in and find their place.
    Through these characters and their stories, we find that real “success” comes in little drops and small measures – through self-sacrifice and reaching out to help someone else. As the magnificent set and the use of it in the blocking showed us, these people were constantly opening doors to help each other. Their lives were rich because so much spilled out into the shared space of life on a New York street corner. such community is America.

  7. Duane

    Loved the show how it was so inviting to enlighten about the Latino culture in the heights. Inviting in the sense that what the work brings out is that the surface aspects of any culture often divide, but the underlying values and motivations cross boundaries. The concerns with gentrification, business closings, loss of connection to one’s country of origin, and struggle to get ahead in the states is common to all immigrant groups.
    So “patiencia y faith” seem to be more important to keep a stable center amidst the swirling changes in the heights. Living in a constant state of transition requires a lot of “patiencia y faith” . Hard work was shown to be futile sometimes, and without the core values, of little meaning.

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