By Tyler Conrad ’17
Brophy/Xavier Theatre’s upcoming production of “In the Heights” at Xavier seeks to be accurate in its cultural portrayal of the largely Dominican-American New York City Washington Heights neighborhood.
“The actors and crew of the show have committed to putting on an accurate portrayal of the script, the characters, and the story intended by Lin Manuel-Miranda,” said Elias Sabbagh ’17, who portrays Parigua Guy in the production.
The musical centers on Usnavi, an orphan living in the barrio, struggling to make a living and get out into the world.
“Usnavi and practically all of the characters in the musical go through struggles in their daily lives to make ends meet and they all have dreams of moving on to bigger and better things, and then everything changes when someone in their community wins the lottery,” said Spencer Coben ’17, who plays Benny.
The cast and crew said they plan on preparing the production to fit the culture as accurately as possible.
“Ms. Robillard and all of the people working on the show over at Xavier are taking intense care to accurately portray these people’s lives and stories,” Coben said. “They have even brought in a past Brophy student who has lived in Washington Heights for some years now to help us with dialect and to better appreciate and understand the culture of the show.”
In addition to dialect, outside help was also brought in for the choreography.
“We have also brought in auxiliary salsa and flamenco choreographers to ensure vibrance on our movement,” Sabbagh said.
Actors said they have great excitement to perform a work written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man behind the critically-acclaimed Broadway musical “Hamilton.”
“Miranda’s trendiness is much deserved, as every show he produces has an important message that we can all benefit from,” Sabbagh said.
Coben said he, along with many young actors and actresses, see Miranda as a role model in the industry.
“He’s completely revolutionizing the way that musicals are being written nowadays,” Coben said. “I, as do many young theatre people, look up to Lin Manuel Miranda as a huge inspiration.
“In the Heights” runs in Xavier’s Virginia G. Piper Performing Arts Center Oct. 12, 13, and 15.