Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo “In the Heights”
In the Heights, the 2010 Tony award winner, is a feel-good, much loved musical about the trials, tribulations, and joys of a group of Latinos living in a barrio in New York City’s Washington Heights. The show’s optimism would seem, at least in part, the product of composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s youth when he first conceived it as a student at Wesleyan College in 1999. He wanted to develop a musical about the Hispanic community where he had grown up, drawing on Latin and contemporary musical influences. Unlike the earlier Latino-themed musicals West Side Story and The Capeman, In the Heights is devoid of gang violence. Violence has been replaced by solidarity. While Miranda’s decision to break with clichés is laudable, the result, in this case, is a lack of dramatic conflict and sentimentally drawn characters.