Miranda was also asked if the show’s use of Spanish disoriented audience members, who might have trouble understanding parts of the show.
“Most of our audience is your typical, theatergoing audience,” Miranda said. “It’s wonderful that we’ve become an event show for Latinos on Broadway, but the overwhelming majority of people who come to see our show — and this was particularly true off-Broadway — don’t speak a word of Spanish. And they come away loving it. They understand it. We’ve taken great care to make sure you get everything in context.”
The characters of “In the Heights” run the gamut in terms of age — one character is in her late 60s — though younger characters drive the story, including the main protagonist, Usnavi, who owns a bodega in the neighborhood. (Usnavi was played by Miranda in the original Broadway version of the show.) As a young business owner, Usnavi typifies the passion and ambition that run through “In the Heights.” Hopes and dreams are key themes within the play.
When asked if he was a dreamer, Miranda’s answer was clear-cut: “I don’t know where I’d be if I weren’t. More often than not, musical theater doesn’t work. There are a lot of bad musicals in the world. But when it works, it’s more transporting than anything else. It’s magical. I don’t know how you work in musical theater if you’re not a dreamer.”
“In the Heights,” it appears, hasn’t reached its own heights yet. Not only is the first national tour already under way, but Universal Pictures is adapting the musical for a feature film release.
The movie will be directed by Kenny Ortega, director of “Michael Jackson: This Is It” and the “High School Musical” films. Miranda will reprise his role as Usnavi for the film.
For more information on “In the Heights,” visit www.intheheightsthemusical.com.
For information on the Shea’s show, visit www.sheas.org or call the box office at 847-1410.