If you’re a Hamilton fan, saddle up and get ready for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s next musical film—In the Heights. This time, Miranda fans are leaving the 18th century and heading to Washington Heights, New York, a tight-knit community, everyone with their own big dreams for the future.
In the Heights follows a three-day story of shop owner Usnavi de la Vega, played by Anthony Ramos, who dreams of a bigger life in the Dominican Republic and the misadventures of Washington Heights residents. From romance to drama, this film is everything Hamilton fans can ask for.
If this plotline sounds familiar to you, it’s because In The Heights debuted on Broadway—Miranda’s first musical!—back in 2008. Miranda wrote the music for the original show (which he first staged during his Sophomore year at Wesleyan University in 1999), and Quiara Alegría Hudes wrote the book. Miranda also starred as Usnavi in that 2008 Broadaway production. This musical was so successful that it spun off several global adaptations (Brazil, Japan, Australia, to name a few), and won several awards, including a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album. It should be no surprise, then, that director Jon M. Chu worked with Miranda to bring the popular musical to the big screen (and has received universal praise from critics and audiences alike. And while the movie has an incredible cast, it only barely crosses over with the cast of that original Broadway production.
So, where are they now? How has the original adaption of In the Heights brought them to stardom? Here’s what we know.
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Since starring in the 2008 Broadway adaptation, Miranda has been busy. Other than writing and starring in Hamilton, he’s lent his musical artistry to Moana (he co-wrote most of the soundtrack), acted in Mary Poppins Returns, and more. His next projects—after In the Heights—are a pair for Netflix: voice acting in We the People, an animated series about the U.S. government co-produced by former President Barack Obama, and making his directorial debut with tick…tick…Boom!, another musical, this one starring Andrew Garfield.
In the musical, Gonzalez starred as Nina Rosario, a young, bright girl eager to leave the Heights and attend Stanford before returning home. Gonzalez has been a busy bee since the production left Broadaway. She’s made numerous TV guest roles in Quantico, The Good Wife, and more. But, she returned to the stage in 2016 by performing as Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton. Acting isn’t her only accomplishment either—she’s also a published novelist.
Jackson has worked with Miranda before In The Heights became a Tony-award play (he played Benny, a local dispatcher who crushes on Nina in the original adaption). So, it’s no surprise that many of his current roles have been with famed the playwright—Hamilton and Moana. Other than his projects on Broadway, Jackson has appeared in numerous TV shows, including the CBS procedural drama Bull.
Similar to her other co-stars, Olivio has continued working with Miranda after starring as Vanessa, de la Vega’s love interest, in the musical. She’s appeared in Hamilton, the 2009 musical West Side Story, and the 2019 musical of Moulin Rouge, which earned her a 2020 Tony Award nomination for Best Actress.
Merediz’s portrayal as Abuela Claudia, the matriarch of the Heights, in the original play brought her to stardom—she was nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical in 2008. Since then, she’s appeared in the sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Law & Order: SVU. Her most recent role to date is the reprisal of Claudia in the 2021 In The Heights adaptation.
In the musical, Gomez starred as Kevin Rosario, the father of Nina and boss of Benny. Since his portrayal, Gomez has shifted his career focus from stage to film. Ride Along 2 and The Baker and the Beauty are just a few of his latest roles.
Since appearing as Camila Rosario, Nina’s mother and Kevin’s wife, Lopez hasn’t been quite busy. Most of her current work consists of small-time roles on Broadway, guest appearances on various TV shows, and a few films here and there.
Robin de Jesús
Similar to Lopez, de Jesús’s projects have been few and far in-between. However, his next role might be his next biggest break (aside from portraying Sonny in the 2008 musical). de Jesús is returning to work with Miranda on tick, tick… BOOM, an upcoming Netflix musical film directed by Miranda that tells the autobiographical story of playwright Johnathon Larson.
Burns is not only just an actress, but also a singer too. Since her role as hairdresser Daniela in the original Broadway show, she’s gone on to perform for numerous stage plays and record music for other musicals. Her next big role is playing Fausta in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming West Side Story film.
Dacal’s biggest role was Carla in Miranda’s original play. But that’s not to say she hasn’t been back on stage. In fact, she’s appeared as the lead performer in Prince of Broadway, a limited run-musical. As of right now, she’s performing in 10-time Tony awarded musical, The Band’s Visit.
Other than In the Heights, Stewart has appeared in the 2020 filmed version of Hamilton. But that’s the total of his career—small guest roles in Friends with Benefits and Smash are his only past roles.
Similar to Stewart, Román’s work has been limited since his portrayal as Piragüero a.k.a Piragua Guy. He recently appeared on Broadway for the musical On Your Feet in 2018, but other than that, his acting projects have been restricted to small appearances on various musicals and plays.
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