In the Heights, the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda, has added Jimmy Smits, Olga Merediz, and Gregory Diaz to the cast. Hailed as a Broadway sensation, In the Heights will be adapted into a movie musical film by Warner Bros. After a bumpy road to begin production, the Tony-award winning musical inches closer to the finish line with the recent additions to the cast.
Written by Miranda, In the Heights follows residents of a predominantly Latino neighborhood in Washington Heights. Set over the course of three days, darkness consumes the neighborhood when a power outage occurs, and issues of the characters come to light. While In the Heights put Miranda on the map, he became revered in the Broadway world for his composition of Hamilton. Other notable works of Miranda’s includes Moana, Mary Poppins Returns and His Dark Materials. On Broadway, Miranda played Usnavi de la Vega, the lead and narrator of the story. Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born) has been tapped to play Usnavi in the film version. Usnavi is a bodega owner with mixed feelings about closing his store. When the power goes out, Usnavi and the neighborhood residents are thrust into a slew of issues, including financial desperation, love affairs, familial obligation, and the reveal that one resident is a lottery winner. Now, eager fans of In the Heights are starting to see the cast list filled out.
According to Deadline, Miranda announced the additions of Smits, Merediz, and Diaz via Twitter. Smits has been tapped to play Kevin Rosario and Diaz will be Sonny. Smits has an impressive list of credits to his name, including The West Wing, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Dexter and How to Get Away with Murder. Diaz made his Broadway debut in Matilda: The Musical and recently appeared in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Merediz joins the cast as Abuela Claudia, the matriarch of the barrio who has looked after Usnavi since he was a child. Merediz is already in harmony with her character, as she played Abuela in In the Heights' entire Broadway run - earning a Tony nomination for her performance.
The three casting choices join the ones already announced, including Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, and Corey Hawkins as Benny. In the Heights is in the creative hands of producers Anthony Bregman, Mara Jacobs, Scott Sanders, and Miranda. Marc Klein is set to pen the script and Quiara Alegria Hudes - author of In The Heights book - is in charge of the musical book. Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), who's shown interest in the adaptation for years, has been tapped to direct. Warner Bros. previously announced a 2020 release date for the movie musical.
Hollywood has seen a resurgence in the popularity of movie musicals the past five years. Musicals that only appeared from behind a curtain, such as Into the Woods, Wicked and Cats, are now becoming a moviegoing experience. While putting a beloved stage play onto a big screen allows for further preservation of the story, some stage purists often find themselves reluctant to see the film adaption. Adding well-known names from the Broadway world to A-list talent makes fans of the musical more inclined to see the film. With Miranda overseeing the production and casting choices bringing the characters of Washington Heights to life, In the Heights will no doubt resonate with both experts and beginners of the musical world.