Lights up on Washington Heights!creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights comes to cinemas and HBO Max on Thursday, June 10, and fans who haven’t been able to see a show in a real theater in over a year are getting excited. Hamilton’s huge fandom will surely be curious about another Miranda musical, especially since the room where it happens can be your very own living room. Here’s how to watch In the Heights.
When and how to watch?
In the Heights premieres in theaters and on streaming service HBO Max on June 1
HBO Max doesn’t have a free trial, so you’ll either need to sign up with a paid membership (currently $15 per month) or upgrade an existing HBO subscription to include Max. The streamer just released aif you don’t like advertising.
You may already have access to HBO Max and not even know it. If you currently subscribe to HBO through your cable or satellite provider, you can probably get HBO Max without paying anything extra. We’ll explain it in detail here, but essentially you’ll need to watch on a smart TV or streaming device — or a Comcast Xfinity box — using the HBO Max app and your home internet connection.
Also, after months of delay, Roku finally gave its streaming devices and TVs access to HBO Max. You can find more information here.
What is In the Heights about?
In the Heights takes place over three summer days in the largely Dominican New York neighborhood of Washington Heights. Your protagonist is bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos, aka John Laurens/Philip Hamilton of Hamilton), but the real star is the close-knit neighborhood.
Warner Bros. made the first eight minutes of the musical available on YouTube for free.
Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the first version of the musical as a student. After a few years off-Broadway, it opened on Broadway in 2008, years before Hamilton, and was nominated for 13 Tony Awards, winning four of them. The show has also played in London’s West End and on tour across the US.
Unlike Hamilton’s movie available to stream on Disney Plus, this new In the Heights movie isn’t just a filmed version of the show. It is a real feature film that was shot in New York in 2019. So even if you’ve seen In the Heights on stage, you’ve never seen it with these elaborate sets (pools!) and added movie magic (dancing on the walls!). The film was originally scheduled for a theatrical release in 2020, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Who plays in the movie?
Get ready for some familiar faces, HamFans. Anthony Ramos, who played John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in Hamilton, stars as Usnavi, Hamilton/In the Heights creator Lin-Manuel Miranda plays Piraguero, the Piragua Guy, and Christopher Jackson, who played George Washington in Hamilton, plays Mr. softee .
Anthony Ramos plays Usnavi de la Vega
Corey Hawkins plays Benny
Leslie Grace plays Nina Rosario
Ariana Greenblatt plays young Nina
Ariana S. Gomez plays 12-year-old Nina
Melissa Barrera plays Vanessa
Olga Merediz plays Grandma Claudia
Daphne Rubin-Vega plays Daniela
Gregory Diaz IV plays Sonny de la Vega
Jimmy Smits plays Kevin Rosario
Stephanie Beatriz plays Carla
Dascha Polanco plays Cuca
Lin-Manuel Miranda plays Piraguero, the Piragua Guy
Marc Anthony plays Mr. de la vega
Noah Catala plays Graffiti Pete
Christopher Jackson plays Mr. softee
Jon M. Chu, of Crazy Rich Asians, directs.
The songs that get stuck in your head
Which songs will you remember? uh, everyone? This is a Lin-Manuel Miranda musical, after all. Hamilton fans will instantly recognize the theatrical lyrics mixed with speed of light rap that Miranda does better than anyone else – only he could rhyme ‘hypothetical’ with ‘set of goals’.
Here are some favorites:
In the Heights
The cheerful, jazzy opening track sets the tone and permanently sets the title in your head. Similar to the Alexander Hamilton song in Hamilton, the title song explains the plot, introduces characters, raps at the speed of light, and never lets your toes stop tapping.
Partially sung in Spanish, Breathe is Nina’s touching song about how embarrassed she feels about failing her block with her struggles in college. “Hey guys, it’s me,” she sings. “The biggest disappointment you know. The boy couldn’t hack it. She’s back and she’s walking very slowly.’
Someone from the neighborhood bought a winning $96,000 ticket at Usnavi’s bodega, and the characters dream about what they would do with the money. In true Miranda fashion, pop culture references include Frodo, Donald Trump (replaced by Tiger Woods for the film), Pinocchio, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and more.
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