In the Heights ready for showtime

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This year’s school play is a rendition of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award winning In the Heights, based on ‎Quiara Alegría Hudes’ novel. The school’s show is on the evenings of April 13 and 14 and features multiple Harrisites from the Townsend Harris Players. The cast members were able to shed light upon the experiences they have gathered from being a part of this production and the challenges they may have had to overcome.   

The plot of the original play centers around the characters’ lives in the predominantly-Hispanic neighborhood of Washington Heights, New York City. The story focuses on the character Usnavi, a Dominican bodega owner in the community, played by junior Matthew Cabrera, and the female lead role Nina, played by senior Bea Angela Tolentino. The story is spread over the course of three days and includes musical performances involving Latin dance, hip hop, rap, salsa, merengue and soul music. Many of the performances take place on the student-built balconies.

The Townsend Harris Players experienced an extensive audition process before landing a role. During the first round of auditions, actors were assessed on their singing and dancing skills. After this, students were called back to audition for specifically chosen roles. After analyzing the auditions, the crew was finally chosen. “We invested so much time into this play,” said junior Melanie Esterine, “but the bond we formed is one I wouldn’t trade for the world.”

The preparation leading up to the production was very time consuming. “As we got to the most intense scenes of the play,” explained lead role Matthew Cabrera, “we had to put more and more time into perfecting them.” This was especially the case during the final week of rehearsals, when students remained after school hours and sacrificed much of their time in order to perfect the play.

As the play is coming to an end, many of the cast members revealed their overall experiences in partaking in this year’s production. Melanie described her involvement in the play as being a teaching opportunity. “I’ve learned so much about the value and beauty of family,” she stated, “and I’ve learned that we all have a story, one which sets us apart but also brings us together.” Junior Matthew Cabrera on the other hand saw this as an eye opening experience towards seeing another part of his classmates he wouldn’t normally see in class. He adds on by explaining, “You see a whole side to them you don’t see in class. I have a lot of newfound respect for people who I barely knew before, after watching them come up with choreography, learn lines, and sing.”

The hardworking cast is a perfect example and embodiment of a true Harrisite. “After all the blood, sweat and tears we put into this production, at the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of theater nerds singing and dancing on a stage,” said Bea, “and there’s no other way I would’ve wanted to spend my afternoons than here.”

Tickets are available now in the SU store. Performances are on Friday and Saturday night at 7pm in the THHS auditorium.