“Light up on Washington Heights!” Set to kick off the summer with the final show of its “Grand Reopening” season, The Ritz Theater Company will present In the Heights, the Tony Award-winning musical (and cultural) phenomenon by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes. Directed by Edwin “Rico” Santiago, production runs at the Ritz from July 15 to July 31.
“When I first saw In the Heights on Broadway, I was overwhelmed with emotion after the opening number,” Santiago recalls. “I was watching a musical about people, my people, it wasn’t West Side Story. Every character was someone in my life. It’s very personal to me. Like I’m directing a day in the life. for me growing up in Camden. Our neighborhood was very close. When one person was successful, the whole neighborhood was successful. It was common to see my dad on the porch playing his guitar and our neighbors coming out with their own instruments and playing During the whole this time we are dancing salsa on the sidewalk. I grew up listening to rap/hip-hop and Spanish music. I almost feel like this “musical” was written especially for me in a strange feeling. Of course, many other Latinx who have heard the music or seen the musical feel the same as me. I had the honor of playing Usnavi in a production of In the Heights there six years ago. Now I can lead a new generation ion of phenomenally talented Latinx actors at the historic Ritz Theater. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect way to spend my summer.”
In the Heights tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood – a place where the coffee of the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions to take with you and which to leave behind.
“Although this show is about life in a Latinx community for three days, I feel like everyone, no matter where you’re from, can relate to this show,” Mr. Santiago. “A lost loved one. Financial hardship. A strong focus on family and community. These are things that happen everywhere and will always be relevant to all communities. I can’t stress this enough, but this cast is full of of incredibly talented people. Latinx and black artists. If I want to see a show about life in this community, then I want to see people who are like me, my family and my friends. People who are going through real life experiences and struggles just like the next person. It was very important to me that the community I grew up in was represented. I think the public will see it and appreciate it.
Mr. Santiago’s creative team on this project is complemented by musical director André Vermeulen, choreographer Katharina Muñiz and stage manager Mia Rose DiFilippo. As for the cast, the production includes Julián Pérez as Usnavi, Melany McCarson as Vanessa, Jordan Edmondson as Benny, Naomi Serrano as Nina, AJ Mun as Sonny, Carmen Delia Bryant as Abuela Claudia, Erik Medina as Kevin Rosario, Krista Reinhardt as Camila Rosario, Jen Rosario as Daniela, Emily Colón as Carla, Sanya Johnson as Graffiti Pete, Kyrus Keenan Westcott as Piragua Guy and performers Kyra Janaé Bryant, Audrey Floyd, Evan Hairston, Armando Mendez, Tiara Nock, Jeremiah Rosado and Kyle Smith as members of the show’s versatile ensemble. Everyone is incredibly excited to bring this vibrant, dynamic and energetic musical to the stage at The Ritz and to share this story with the entire community.
“Having people in the audience who could watch the scene and see people who looked like them was very important to me,” Santiago says. “Representation is important. I’ve been involved in theater for over 35 years and it’s the most diverse cast I’ve ever worked with. I wanted to make sure the artists involved in this project had the same passion to represent their community as much as I do. My production team and I really made a concerted effort to incorporate different styles of movement into the show, from hip hop to salsa. There’s something for everyone on this show “We focus on family. Ultimately, I want the young Latinx people who come to see this show to know that there’s a place for them at the Ritz. There’s a place for all of us in the theater.” Who knows, maybe it will inspire someone to create the next diverse and inclusive blockbuster like In the Heights or Hamilton.
The Ritz Theater Company Presents
IN THE HEIGHTS
July 15 – July 31, 2022
Directed by Edwin “Rico” Santiago
Musical and vocal direction by André Vermeulen
Choreography by Katharina Muniz
Directed by Mia Rose DiFilippo
Julian Pérez as Usnavi
Melany McCarson as Vanessa
Jordan Edmondson as Benny
Naomi Serrano as Nina
AJ Mun as Sonny
Carmen Delia Bryant as Abuela Claudia
Erik Medina as Kevin Rosario
Krista Reinhardt as Camila Rosario
Jen Rosario as Daniela
Emily Colon as Carla
Sanya Johnson as Graffiti Pete
Kyrus Keenan Westcott as Piragua Guy
Ensemble: Kyra Janae Bryant, Audrey Floyd, Evan Hairston,
Armando Mendez, Tiara Nock, Jeremiah Rosado, Kyle Smith
Performance dates and times
Friday July 15 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday July 16 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday July 17 at 2 p.m.
Wednesday July 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday July 22 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday July 23 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday July 24 at 2 p.m.
Wednesday July 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday July 29 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday July 30 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday July 31 at 2 p.m.
General Admission – $30
Rush Artist/Student – $15
Tickets available online, by phone and at the box office!
The Ritz Theater Company
“An all-inclusive theater company celebrating the diversity in our stories and those of those who share them”
915 White Horse Pike
Township of Haddon, NJ 08107