The long-awaited film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights is finally here! See ten things fans of the original Broadway musical can expect.

Written by: Sam Heltemes – June 11th, 2021 1:49 pm pst

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Lin-Manuel Miranda’s debut musical In the Heights premiered on Broadway back in 2008. Now, it is up on the big screen for a wider audience to enjoy. Directed by Jon M. Chu, known for Crazy Rich Asians, the film packs a joyful punch sure to please fans of the original. Check out some of the key things to know, including casting, surprises, new story additions, and more.

*Spoilers ahead*

#1. The Film Features Three Members of the Original Broadway Cast.

Olga Merediz reprises her role as neighborhood matriarch Abuela Claudia, delivering an emotional performance of “Paciencia Y Fe.” Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s creator and originator of the starring role of Usnavi, transforms into Piraguero, a.k.a. Piragua Guy, serving up icy treats for the neighborhood. Originally in the role of Benny on Broadway, Christopher Jackson plays Piraguero’s rival, the Mister Softee ice cream truck driver.

#2. There is a Hamilton easter egg.
The film not only features three of the original stars of Hamilton (Miranda, Jackson, and Anthony Ramos), but also presents a cheeky audio reference for fans of Miranda’s other Broadway smash hit.

#3. Marc Anthony makes a cameo.
Appearing as Sonny’s alcoholic father, Anthony also performs on the end-credit song “Home All Summer.”

#4. A notable song is absent.
While the film manages to pack in most of the songs from the original, there were a couple of songs missing. Most notably absent is “Sunrise,” the romantic duet between Nina (Leslie Grace) and Benny (Corey Hawkins).

#5. The lottery ticket reveal comes later.
On stage, Abuela Claudia reveals her winning lottery ticket to Usnavi at the end of the first act. On screen, however, the big reveal does not come until the end when Usnavi discovers it himself.

#6. The film raises awareness of modern social issues.
Sonny (Gregory Diaz IV), Usnavi’s charismatic teenage cousin, is revealed to be an undocumented immigrant. While the original show centered itself more closely on the issue of gentrification, the film modernizes the narrative by offering a glimpse of the challenges facing undocumented individuals, as well as the fight for their rights today. Furthermore, the film includes a scene in which Nina addresses racial profiling she has experienced while away at college.

#7. Vanessa dreams even bigger.
Vanessa (Melissa Barrera) doesn’t just dream of moving to the West Village, but also of making a name for herself as a fashion designer.

#8. Movie magic makes some of the biggest numbers even more show-stopping.
Somehow, the film manages to feel both intimate and larger-than-life. It maintains the close-knit community and family dynamics of the original while going big in ways that can’t be achieved on a stage. Some scenes include animated graphics, while another defies gravity. Others are simply massive, featuring countless extras, elaborate choreography, and interesting camera angles and backdrops. The “96,000” pool scene packs in a ton of joy and energy; and the fireworks lighting up the sky in “Blackout” will give you chills.

#9. We get a glimpse into Usnavi and Vanessa’s future.
In a departure from the original version, Usnavi tells the story of his time in Washington Heights retroactively by speaking to a group of kids on a beach. In the end, we come to find that one of these kids is the daughter of Usnavi and Vanessa, who still live happily as a family in the neighborhood.

#10. There is a delightful after-credit scene.
Stick around through the end credits for a fun conclusion to the rivalry between Piraguero and the Mister Softee’s ice cream truck driver.

Despite some differences between the stage and screen versions of In the Heights, the new film firmly maintains the spirit, energy, cultural representation, excellent music, and themes of the original. It is a must see!

You can see In the Heights in theaters now or streaming on HBO Max until July 10.

About The Author:

Samantha Heltemes is a film and television production student at Loyola Marymount University and an intern for AfterBuzz TV. She is passionate about movies, art and design, travel, and food.

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