Is it Time to Revive "In the Heights?"

Chris Peterson 

  • OnStage Founder

With great new material becoming fewer and far between on Broadway, there is no doubt that revivals seem to be a popular choice for producers. They're also Tony-bait as well. Of the past 7 winners for Best Actress in a Musical, 6 of them have come from revivals. 

Lately is seems that producers have been rushing certain shows back to Broadway. Earlier this decade we saw two Gypsy productions in a span of five years. This past year we saw the second production of The Color Purple in the past 10 years and are about to see the same, possibly, with Sweet Charity. 

Given the rise in his popularity, theatre audiences can't seem to get enough of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Hamilton is a gigantic hit not only here in New York but in Chicago as well. His short musical, 21 Chump Street, is going to get a run in London and he's in negotiations to create his own Disney film. So given the demand, is it time to start thinking about reviving In the Heights?

In case you've been living under a rock or don't know anything about the piece that put Miranda on the map, 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. The show was the winner of the 2008 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations.

Now before you scoff at the notion of having two Lin-Manuel Miranda shows on Broadway at the same time, hear me out on this. There is a need for material like this more than ever and it could prove worthwhile for producers to take a shot with this. 

Miranda's mainstream star power is like nothing I have ever seen in my lifetime for someone in the Broadway community, when was the last time you saw a composer host Saturday Night Live? So everything and anything that Miranda touches would be gold, why else would Disney do everything to grab him up at this point? So I doubt very much that ticket sales would be an issue. 

Then there is the greater need for a revival of In the Heights right now. With the times we're living in, any reminder of the vibrancy that lies in other cultures would be most welcome. And I can't think of a better show to showcase the vibrancy of the Latino population than In the Heights. 

It would also help to address to the need to populate Broadway stages with more performers of color. While some shows like Miss Saigon are arriving to help in that area, to say that's enough is ludicrous. 

So before you dismiss the idea of reviving a show that closed only five years ago, it might make more sense the more you think about it.