In the Heights is coming comes to HBO GO on 16 September, bringing together a talented cast that depicts the compelling story of first-generation US Latin immigrants. A fusion of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s (Hamilton) kinetic music and lyrics, with director Jon M. Chu’s (Crazy Rich Asians) lively and authentic eye for storytelling, it captures a world very much of its place, but universal in its experience.
In the Heights is a musical portrait of a community full of lively numbers as diverse as its cast. The story weaves together an ensemble of characters during one particular summer of seismic change in all of their lives, with much of the action taking place at one intersection central to the neighborhood. The songs and dances cover a variety of styles — from hip-hop to Latin to pop and musical theater — and this provides ample opportunity to explore the varied influences of the distinct Latin cultures that merge and continue to populate and represent Washington Heights.
Anthony Ramos plays Usnavi, who serves as the film’s narrator and nexus to the intersecting storylines; he is also the nucleus of a chosen family that includes the community’s de facto Abuela Claudia, played by Tony-winning originator of the role and Broadway veteran Olga Merediz, and his cousin and sole too-smart-for-his-own-good bodega employee, Sonny, played by rising star Gregory Diaz IV. In the role of Benny, Usnavi’s best friend, is Corey Hawkins, who works as a dispatcher for local car service owner Kevin Rosario, played by pioneering star of screen and stage, Jimmy Smits, while Benny’s daughter Nina is played by Leslie Grace.
Together, each of their lives, hopes and dreams present a compelling tale of finding one’s place in life and redefining what ‘home’ means for those who straddle two different cultures.