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There is magic in these streets. Fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first — and most personal — Broadway musical In The Heights have been patiently waiting for the feature film adaptation since director Jon M. Chu came on board the project in 2016. Now, after a little pacienca y fe, the first trailer has finally arrived — and it’s as vibrant and electrifying as the New York City neighborhood that inspired it.
Miranda debuted the dazzling trailer for a select group of journalists and guests at a restaurant in Washington Heights on Wednesday night (December 11), just a few blocks away from where it all began. “I started writing this show when I was 19 years old,” he said, “six blocks away, where my parents live.” He was joined by Chu, screenwriter Quiara Alegría Hudes (who also penned the theater production), and the cast, including Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Jimmy Smits, Melissa Barrera, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Dascha Polanco, and Stephanie Beatriz.
The film follows the lives of a diverse group of people — immigrants, children of immigrants, DREAMers, and dreamers — who live and work in Upper Manhattan’s Washington Heights community. Usnavi (Ramos in the role originate by Miranda on the stage) is the local bodega owner whose “dreams are so big that he”s scared of them,” Ramos said. He wants to win the lottery to clear his debt and start fresh. And then there’s Vanessa (Barrera), the girl of his dreams, who wants nothing more than to get out of the barrio and live downtown to pursue a career in fashion. Meanwhile, Nina (Leslie Grace) returns to the block following a tough first semester at Stanford University, and Benny (Hawkins) is there to show her just how much the neighborhood missed her.
Though the film is set in Washington Heights with a largely Hispanic cast, Chu was adamant to say that the real power of Miranda’s work is the universality of the story. “When I saw the show years and years ago, it reminded me of my family,” Chu said. “I grew up in an immigrant family. The community and the fight to survive and the right to dream was everything to me. That’s the American story. I said, ‘I know how to make this movie and how to express it.'”
And, similar to the mainstream success of his previous film, Crazy Rich Asians, Chu hopes the community will embrace the film and give it a groundswell of support. “I believe that this movie is an amazingly beautiful seed that can change a lot of minds.”
In The Heights is set to hit theaters on June 26, 2020.