A new trailer for In the Heights, the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s other Tony Award-winning musical, introduces us to Miranda’s beloved Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, where “streets were made of music.”
Before he was Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda originated the role of Usnavi, an immigrant from “the greatest little place in the Caribbean” who runs a corner bodega. The musical, which Miranda wrote in his freshman year of college because he’s almost obnoxiously talented, largely revolves around a winning lottery ticket that Usnavi discovers he sold at his bodega. But the plot is less important than the characters and the feeling of the show, which is mostly just a love letter to Miranda’s neighborhood.
The trailer largely serves as an introduction to Usnavi and his neighborhood. Shots alternating between choreographed, joyful dance numbers and emotional moments that should be recognizable to fans of the musical: Usnavi and his crush Vanessa at the dance hall, Abuela Claudia encouraging the anxious and overworked Nina, the fireworks.
One thing in particular stands out, which is that it looks like Usnavi did make it back to the Dominican Republic. At the end of the musical he decides to stay in Washington Heights despite feeling a pull back towards his home. But the trailer begins with Usnavi telling a story to a group of kids in a distinctly tropical setting. Whether he’s just visiting or he moved back (hopefully after marrying Vanessa) we’ll have to wait and see.
It also looks like In The Heights (2020) will address the anxieties that immigrant communities are feeling under our current administration. The threat to kick out DREAMers is explicitly mentioned in the trailer.
In the film adaptation, Usnavi is played by Miranda’s Hamilton co-star Anthony Ramos. Jimmy Smits, The Walking Dead’s Corey Hawkins, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Stephanie Beatriz join the cast of the movie as well. Miranda even has a cameo as the Piragua Guy, whose signature song apparently only took him 15 minutes to write.
An In the Heights movie was in the works following its Tony-winning Broadway run, but that project fell through in 2011. The new adaptation was announced in 2016, with Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu attached.
In The Heights will be released in summer 2020. Until then, I’ll be over here watching the trailer on repeat and trying not to cry when the title track swells.