The Ritz Theatre Company presents In the Heights, the Tony Award-winning musical (and cultural phenomenon) by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes. Directed by Edwin “Rico” Santiago, the production runs at The Ritz from July 15-31. Photographer John Posada was on hand during a dress rehearsal to take some photos.
In the Heights tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood—a place where the coffee from 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 you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.
Directed by Edwin “Rico” Santiago, the cast features 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.
“When I first saw In the Heights on Broadway, I was overcome with emotion after the opening number,” recalls Mr. Santiago. “I was watching a musical about people, my people, that wasn’t West Side Story. Each and every character was someone in my life. It’s very personal to me. As if I’m directing what a day in the life was like for me growing up in Camden. Our neighborhood was a very close one. When one person succeeded, the entire neighborhood succeeded. It was commonplace to see my dad on the porch playing his guitar and have our neighbors step out with their own instruments and play along. All the while, we’re dancing salsa on the sidewalk.
"I grew up listening to rap/hip-hop and Spanish music," continued Santiago. "It almost feels like this ‘musical’ was written specially for me in some weird sense. I’m sure many other Latinx people who have heard the music or who have seen the musical feel the same way as I do. I had the honor or playing Usnavi in a production of In the Heights six years ago. Now I get to direct a new generation of phenomenally talented Latinx actors at the historic Ritz Theatre. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect way to spend my summer.”
“Although this show is about the lives of a Latinx community over three days, I feel as though everyone, no matter where you’re from, can relate to this show,” says Mr. Santiago. “A lost loved one. Financial hardships. A strong focus on family and community. These are things that happen everywhere and will always be relevant to all communities. I can’t emphasize this enough, but this cast is chock-full of amazingly talented Latinx and Black artists. If I want to see a show about what life is like in this community, then I want to see people who look like me, my family, and my friends. People who go through real-life experiences and struggles just like the next person. It was very important to me to have the community I grew up in represented. I think audiences will see and appreciate it.”
Performance Dates & Times: Friday, July 15 at 8:00pm; Saturday, July 16 at 8:00pm; Sunday, July 17 at 2:00pm; Wednesday, July 20 at 7:30pm; Friday, July 22 at 8:00pm; Saturday, July 23 at 8:00pm; Sunday, July 24 at 2:00pm; Wednesday, July 27 at 7:30pm; Friday, July 29 at 8:00pm; Saturday, July 30 at 8:00pm; Sunday, July 31 at 2:00pm. Ticket Prices: General Admission — $30; Artist/Student Rush — $15. Tickets are available online, over the phone, and at the box office.
“Having people in the audience being able to look up at the stage and see people who look like them was a very big deal for me,” says Mr. Santiago. “Representation matters. I’ve been involved in theatre for over 35 years and this is the most diverse cast I have ever worked with. I wanted to make sure that the artists who were involved in this project had the same passion about representing their community as much as I did. My production staff and I have really made a concerted effort to incorporate different styles of movement in the show from hip hop to salsa. There’s something for everyone in this show. We focus on family. Ultimately, I want the young Latinx people who come see this show know that there is a place for them at The Ritz. There is a place for all of us in the theatre. Who knows, maybe this will inspire someone to create the next diverse and inclusive blockbuster like In the Heights or Hamilton. That’s what it’s really about.”
The Ritz Theatre Company is located at 915 White Horse Pike in Haddon Township, New Jersey.
ALL PHOTOS BY JOHN POSADA - If your theatre company is interested in having John Posada cover your plays, contact New Jersey Stage at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has taken photos during live performances and dress rehearsals.
John Posada is a New Jersey based photographer specializing in live theatre and music performances. For more than 10 years, John has photographed live music events where he mastered the techniques of timing and capturing fast moving action under challenging lighting conditions to capture that perfect moment that tells a story in a single image. Currently, John has photographed over 70 productions for over 40 different theatres. Click here for John's website.