This spring, LMU Theatre Arts presented In the Heights, a celebratory musical from the creator of the award-winning sensation Hamilton: An American Musical. In the Heights narrates the story of three days in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City. In the predominantly Latinx neighborhood, a storeowner chronicles the highs and joys, joys and heartbreaks of the community. Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegría Hudes.
The LMU production was directed by Daphnie Sicre, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts, who also developed a free and shareable curriculum guide for In the Heights, which discusses the history and origins of the musical, as well as themes, opportunities for classroom discussions, and lessons on migrations and Latinx identity. Sicre facilitated a number of events related to the performances, including bringing 50 students from McBride High School to one of the performances and inviting them for a workshop with cast members. In honor of Black History Month, there was a talk back that focused on “Blackness Across Race and Ethnicity.” An additional talk back focused on issues surrounding immigration and gentrification, entitled “Living in the World of In the Heights – A discussion on immigration, gentrification, and cultural erasure.”
Donations were also collected at the door to benefit ConPRmetidos, a non-profit organization that raises funds to provide emergency aid to people in southern Puerto Rico, including purchasing water, non-perishable food, first aid kits, and sleeping bags, among other articles.
In her director’s notes in the program, Sicre wrote, “On the surface, In the Heights is the quintessential American Musical told with Latinx characters. It only took over a hundred years to see a work like this on the great white way. But when you dig deep, In the Heights is more than the story about immigrants struggling in el Barrio. It’s a story of representation and the fight for cultural survival, in an era of gentrification and the attempt to an erasure of our current immigrant community from the American landscape. In the Heights is a reminder to keep fighting for one’s dreams, and to take action no matter what. It’s a reminder to go beyond paciencia y fe and make choices that will fight systematic racism and the institutions allowing it. I urge you all to help join in the fight, and help make a difference.”
Set design and photos by Christopher Scott Murillo, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts.