Showing posts from July, 2015

In the Heights - meet cast member Andres Alejandro Ponce


In the Heights - meet assistant to the music director Julio Diaz

Meet Julio Diaz, Assistant to Music Director/Spanish Diction Coach/Keyboard 2 Player for LTA's In the Heights.

In the Heights is the first musical that I was able to identify with since I came to the U.S. in 2001.  I came from Peru where I was never exposed to musical theatre.  I was able to learn about theatre at my time at George Mason University's School of Music and under the tutelage of my great friend Chris Tomasino, music director for In the Heights.  It was so special for me to find a musical that uses familiar music genres that I grew up listening to in Peru.  The characters and the story were also familiar to me.  As a Latino man, I've been so used to the struggle of coming to the U.S. not knowing how to speak English, having to work two jobs while going to school, and being the first in my family to go to college.  These characters depict the stories of many Latinos in the U.S.  I've seen some other musicals in which Latinos are portrayed as a caricature, ful…

In the Heights - meet music director Chris Tomasino

How did you first hear about the show?
I first heard about In the Heights while watching the 2008 Tony Awards.  The awards show presented an abbreviated version of the opening number and 96,000.  My initial reaction was not positive.  I could not understand what the show was about, plus it was in rap and hip hop - what?!  I was speaking about the show with my friend, Julio Diaz and he was so excited about the show.  He told me I would really like it and encouraged me to purchase the cast recording and listen to it.  I did and months later while working on a project at work, I decided to listen to the recording.  I was half listening to the show when I got to the middle of the second act and was totally surprised by an event.  I finished listening to the show and decided when I got home that evening, I would read the synopsis of the show while listening again.  When I finished the show the second time, I was in tears.  I admit I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I was very moved by its st…

In the Heights - meet cast member Michael Gale

When I turned in to the 62nd Tony Awards broadcast in June 2008, I hadn't heard of In the Heights.  I was living in Austin, Texas, and had just finished my master's degree in Latin American studies.  In the Heights was nominated for 13 awards, including best musical (which it won), so the cast preformed a medley of the opening number ("In the Heights") and "96,000".  I went insane.  It was so powerful, so energetic, so different, and just so good.  Later that night I found a recording of the performance was already up on youtube so I made my three roommates watch it again.  The next day I bought the cast recording on iTunes and it basically played nonstop for the next 6 months.

For me, this was the right musical at the right time.  For my master's thesis, completed just weeks before, I had written about migration and urbanization in Latin America.  I had spent the previous summer interviewing rural migrants in Peru - speakers of a different language, fro…

In the Heights - meet cast member Janice Rivera

Being a part of In the Heights illuminates the differences that Hispanic people encounter depending not only on where they reside when they come to the US but also how their families decide to acclimate. During the 1950’s when my father came from Puerto Rico to go to medical school in upstate New York, he was eager to shed any image of himself as “ethnic” or Hispanic. He wanted to integrate into mainstream American life. My only exposure to his culture was when we visited family once or twice a year in Puerto Rico throughout my childhood. Most of my relatives there were eager to speak English (my grandparents were both English teachers in their hometown) and so my siblings and I didn’t become fluent in Spanish. At the time, this distancing was a more comfortable approach for my father. I think as time has passed, he’s realized that we all would have been better off embracing his roots more. Indeed as he gets older his desire to return to PR seems to grow! I often lament not having mor…

In the Heights - meet choreographer Stefan Sittig


In the Heights - meet cast member Mary Ayala-Bush

What does it mean to be "In the Heights"?  I'm home!  Truly.  I have two viewpoints of Washington Heights:  my parents' and my own.  My parents moved to Washington Heights from Puerto Rico to join their respective extended family members that had already made "The Heights" their home.  When my parents married, they moved into a six-story walk-up, a beautiful building.  In their entrance, the building's number was inlaid in the floor tiles.  There was a marble staircase with ornate wrought iron railings.  The apartment had fourteen-foot ceilings with crown molding and chair railing.  The bathroom had classic white subway tile and a cast iron claw foot tub.  The apartment was a short two block walk from the subway station and three blocks from their church.  The corner bodega was run by my mother's uncle and my father's cousin.  It was a true community made up of friends and family (and I had a lot of family).  My parents and relatives would often…

In the Heights - meet director Frank Shutts

We sat down and asked LTA veteran director Frank Shutts his thoughts, visions, and hopes for this summer’s production of the 2008 Tony-awarding musical In the Heights which opens on July 25 and runs through August 15.Frank was very excited about this production; we think you’ll see why…

I have waited five years to share this BREAKTHROUGH musical with the LTA audience!In the Heights first came to my attention in 2010 when I saw the original production on Broadway.I was so taken by it that I called home afterwards to discuss it but was so excited that I had to hang up and call back later.This is definitely one show that you will talk about when it is over and not just throw the program in the back seat of the car and drive home unmoved!This musical has as a lot of heart!
It is the story of a tight-knit community in northern Manhattan where the George Washington Bridge connects New Jersey and New York, commonly called Washington Heights.It is a neighborhood of transplanted and first- a…