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.
“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.
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