In The Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams

The Cast of In The Heights: Where Are They Now?

by Elisa Lichtenbaum

In the beginning, before the hit musical Hamilton, there was In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Broadway musical. Winner of five 2008 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the hip hop-infused musical set in the Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights launched Miranda’s rise to stardom. In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams (Friday, November 10, 9 p.m.) follows the cast and creative team on their remarkable journey to Broadway. GREAT PERFORMANCES is presenting a special encore of the documentary as part of Broadway’s Best on PBS, a Friday night line-up of toe-tapping musicals, captivating dramas, and witty comedies airing through December.

Before you tune in, here’s a look at what the In the Heights cast is doing now.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (Music and Lyrics, Usnavi)

Miranda’s work on Broadway since In the Heights has included translations for the 2009 revival of West Side Story, and music and lyrics for the 2012 musical Bring It On, directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler (In the Heights, Hamilton). But it’s Miranda’s 2015 hit musical Hamilton – winner of 11 Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize — that catapulted him to the pinnacle of Broadway stardom. In addition to writing the immense book, music, and lyrics – the Hamilton script contains more than 24,000 words – he delivered a Tony-nominated performance as Alexander Hamilton. Beyond the bright lights of Broadway, Miranda was the lead songwriter for the 2016 animated Disney film Moana, and stars opposite Emily Blunt in  Mary Poppins Returns, coming to a movie theater near you Christmas Day 2018.

VIDEO: THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS: Explore the history and creative process behind Miranda’s Broadway blockbuster, Hamilton, with the GREAT PERFORMANCES documentary Hamilton’s America. Required viewing for #HamilFans!

Andréa Burns (Daniela)

In 2013, Burns played a burlesque stripper named Carmen in Lincoln Center Theater’s production of The Nance by Douglas Carter Beane, starring Nathan Lane. More recently, she played Gloria Estefan’s mother, Gloria Fajardo, in the Tony-nominated musical On Your Feet, earning rave reviews for “Mi Tierra,” her showstopping solo set in a 1950s Havana nightclub.

Janet Dacal (Carla, u/s Nina, Vanessa)

Dacal originated the role of Carla in In the Heights, winning a Drama Desk Award for her performance. She enchanted Broadway audiences as Alice in Wonderland, Frank Wildhorn’s 2011 musical inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. She most recently appeared in Manhattan Theatre Club’s Prince of Broadway, a musical celebration of producer Harold Prince’s career, co-directed by Prince and Susan Stroman.

Left to right: Karen Olivo (Vanessa), Andréa Burns (Daniela)Mandy Gonzalez (Nina), Janet Dacal (Carla).  In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams photo: © Joan Marcus

 

Robin de Jesús (Sonny)

Following his Tony-nominated turn in In the Heights, Robin de Jesús earned laughs and rave reviews as sassy housekeeper Jacob in the 2011 revival of La Cage aux Folles, starring Kelsey Grammer. In April 2018, he returns to Broadway in Mart Crowley’s the Boys in the Band, starring Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Andrew Rannells, and Zachary Quinto, directed by Joe Mantello.

Mandy Gonzalez (Nina)

Gonzalez received a Drama Desk Award for her portrayal of Nina Rosario in In the Heights, a role she originated. She joined the cast of Hamilton in September 2016, succeeding Renée Elise Goldsberry in the role of Angelica Schulyer, and recently made her Café Carlyle debut, performing songs from her new album, Fearless. On TV, she is best known for her work on Madam Secretary and Quantico.

Joshua Henry (Ensemble, u/s Benny; Broadway debut)

Henry has worked steadily on Broadway since In the Heights ended. In 2010, he starred in American Idiot and The Scottsboro Boys directed by Susan Stroman, followed by The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in 2012. Bring It On, also in 2012, reunited him with Miranda and In the Heights choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. He scored a 2014 Tony nomination as Flick in Violet at the Roundabout Theatre Company, starring Sutton Foster. He shared the stage with McDonald again as Noble Sissle in Shuffle Along, directed by George C. Wolfe.

Christopher Jackson (Benny)

Following In the Heights, Jackson performed in the Broadway musicals Memphis (2012), After Midnight (2014), and Holler If Ya Hear Me (2014), and portrayed Derek Jeter in the play Bronx Bombers (2014). He earned a Tony nomination for his portrayal of George Washington in Hamilton, and Miranda also enlisted him to sing the opening tune in Moana. Jackson’s fans can also enjoy his performance as stylist Chunk Palmer on the CBS drama Bull.

Scene from “Great Performances: In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams.” Credit: © Joan Marcus

 

Stephanie Klemons (Dance Captain, swing, u/s Carla)

Klemons wore many hats as In the Heights’ Dance Captain, “Carla” understudy, and swing, and she also worked on the first national tour as Associate Choreographer. Her work as Associate Choreographer of the 2012 musical Bring It On reunited her with Miranda and In the Heights choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. Following that, she was an original cast member and Dance Captain of the 2014 musical If/Then, starring Idina Menzel. She teamed up with Miranda and Blankenbuehler once again as Hamilton’s Associate Choreographer and Dance Captain, and is the Supervising Choreographer for the national tour and West End production.

Priscilla Lopez (Camila)

As a Tony-nominated original cast member of A Chorus Line, Priscilla Lopez is Broadway royalty. She created the role of Diana Morales in the groundbreaking 1975 musical and introduced the songs “What I Did for Love” and “Nothing.” (She performed the latter in the 1999 GREAT PERFORMANCES special, My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies, recorded at Carnegie Hall.) Following In the Heights, in 2014 she appeared in Diane Paulus’s Tony-winning revival of Pippin, taking over the role of Pippin’s grandmother, Berthe – and stopping the show with her solo “No Time at All,” performed while hanging on a trapeze.

Javier Muñoz (Ensemble, u/s Sonny, Usnavi)

To be filed in the History Repeats Itself category: The Richard Rodgers Theatre, 2008: Muñoz is Miranda’s understudy In the Heights, then takes over the role of Usnavi in 2009. Fast forward to the Richard Rodgers Theatre, 2015: Muñoz is Miranda’s alternate as Alexander Hamilton two performances a week and also understudies the role, then inherits the Hamilton throne when Miranda concludes his run with the show in 2016.

Karen Olivo (Vanessa)

After playing Miranda’s onstage love interest in In the Heights, Olivo earned a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical as Anita in the 2009 revival of West Side Story, directed by Arthur Laurents. Recent Off-Broadway credits include the world premiere of Lynn Nottage’s By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (2011) at Second Stage Theatre and the Jonathan Larson musical tick, tick… BOOM! (2014) at New York City Center Encores! She recently portrayed Angelica Schuyler in the Chicago production of Hamilton, and will star in the musical Fun Home at the Forward Theater Company during the Madison, Wisconsin, theater’s 2018–2019 season.

Krysta Rodriguez (Ensemble, u/s Carla, Nina, Vanessa)

Following In the Heights, Rodriguez played Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family (2010) starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. In 2013, she starred in the musical First Date (2013) starring Zachary Levi (recently seen on GREAT PERFORMANCES as Georg in She Loves Me). She played Ilse in the innovative 2015 revival of Spring Awakening conceived by Deaf West Theatre, and is currently starring in Theresa Rebeck’s dark comedy What We’re Up Against at the Women’s Project Theater Off-Broadway.

Seth Stewart (Graffiti Pete)

Stewart was in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton, performing in the ensemble and understudying the roles of the flamboyant Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. He played both roles from September 2016 through April 2017 after Tony winner Daveed Diggs left the show. He has also performed in numerous concert tours with world-famous artists including Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Ne-Yo, The Black-Eyed Peas, Jennifer Hudson, and Jay-Z.

See In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams on-air or online anywhere you watch PBS programming, including PBS.org and PBS apps for iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast. Visit the Broadway’s Best on PBS collection for in-depth features about In the Heights and other GREAT PERFORMANCES programs, and to watch previews and programs online. Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #BroadwayonPBS.

 

ELISA LICHTENBAUM | 

Elisa Lichtenbaum, editor of the monthly THIRTEEN program guide, is also Senior Writer at WNET, a tap dancer and theater geek.