‘IN THE HEIGHTS:’ Musical features all-Latin student cast

By ROBYN ZELICKSON

 

Costumed actors mill around, waiting for rehearsal to begin. Todd Poelstra, the director for “In the Heights,” stands at a lighting station on the Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre stage.

Choreographer Mickey Nugent arrives to work with his singer/dancers. Although he’s choreographed hundreds of shows, he’s excited about working for the first time with hip-hop dance.

“We base our choreography on the original,” he says. “Not copying it exactly, just using the Latin flavor of the rhythms.”

“In the Heights” was conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has recently gained fame for his award-winning Broadway musical “Hamilton.” In true Miranda style, “Heights” features hip-hop lyrics, Latin rhythms and dance.

“When I was in New York teaching, one of my students was in the original cast of ‘In the Heights,’ which was the genius Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first production,” Nugent says. “I met him and he was so kind, just as he is today.”

Nugent is also very proud that “Heights” features the first all-Latin cast in the history of Pima Community College.

Martha Reed, a piano teacher and the Fine Arts department chair at Tucson High Magnet School, is the musical director. This is her fourth show with Pima, although she has worked with Nugent previously.

“My job with the cast is to teach the songs and give vocal direction,” Reed says. “And I work with Mickey on some character development during the songs. It’s all a collaborative effort.”

Reed also works with pit orchestra conductor Mark Nelson on the music that underscores the dialog.

“In the Heights” is based on a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. It tells the story of Dominican immigrants in the New York neighborhood of Washington Heights.

Usnavi, the main character, observes his fellow residents in his bodega. He shares their dreams for the future as they learn to blend Dominican traditions with their new culture in Washington Heights.

Tickets cost $18, with discounts available at pima.edu/cfa.


FYI

“In the Heights”

Where: Proscenium Theatre, West Campus CFA

When: Feb. 23-March 5 Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $18, with discounts available

Box office: 206-6986


Opening night features Carnaval Del Barrio

 The Center for the Arts will host an opening night pre-show celebration for patrons who purchase a ticket to the Feb. 23 performance of “In the Heights.” The Carnaval Del Barrio neighborhood intercultural party will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the CFA courtyard.

Activities will include a hip-hop dance-off, rap demonstrations, graffiti walls, a photo booth, trivia and Spanish word contests.

Refreshments include café con leche, horchata, plantano chips and empañadas.

Local businesses have donated prizes ranging from an iPod to theater tickets and gift certificates.

In addition, opening-night patrons will be entered into a grand prize Golden Ticket drawing for a pass to every PCC performing arts production in the 2017-18 season.


STUDENT CAST

Usnavi de la Vega: Lucas Rodriguez

Nina Rosario: Angelica Ornelas

Kevin Rosario: Jonathan Heras

Camila Rosario: Leticia Gonzalez

Benny: Jeffrey Baden

Vanessa: Taylor Falshaw

Sonny: Hernan Gonzalez

Abuela Claudia: Oksana Perez

Carla: Nathalie Rodriguez

Daniela: Bianca Regalado

Piragüero: Rafael Acuña

Graffiti Pete: Cole Potwardowski

Ensemble: Savannah Martinez, Sergio Munoz, Adrian Encinas, Xstasi/Marco Gutierrez, Marchus Lewis, Eduardo Rodriguez, Taylor Hernandez, Clarrissa Rodriguez, Moira Carrillo, Veronica Conran, Alyssa Furtado


Taylor Falshaw, Bianca Regaldo and Nathalie Rodriguez pamper Angelica Ornelas in Daniela’s Salon in the New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights.
Robyn Zelickson/Aztec Press

 

From left, Sergio Munoz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Adrian Encinas, Marco Gutierrez and Marchus Lewis check out Taylor Falshaw in a scene from “In the Heights” playing at the Proscenium Theatre Feb. 23 – March 5.
Robyn Zelickson/Aztec Press

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