A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Revolutionary Latino musical opens at SRJC

Courtesy of SRJC Theatre Deptmartment
The cast consists of a diverse range of actors of all races, remaining true to the creator’s vision.

Many young adults search for their place in the world and struggle to decide what to do with their lives. Turns out, young adult characters in Broadway musicals do too.

The characters of “In the Heights,” the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical winner, find their tight-knit community is the most important part of their lives and the source of their strength.

The musical opens April 21 in Santa Rosa Junior College’s Burbank Auditorium.

Taking place in the immigrant neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City, the musical dramatizes the many pressures immigrants face as they start businesses, build homes and families and yearn for relatives living far away. Latin dance numbers and vibrant characters tell the unique story.

The show features creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s unique, modern, hip-hop beats intertwined with classic Broadway show tunes and beautiful Latin rhythms. Many know Miranda as the writer and star of “Hamilton,” a recent Broadway phenomenon and 2016 Tony winner now playing in San Francisco. Recently, Miranda’s musical talent has taken new paths with songwriting credits on Disney’s animated feature “Moana” and a role in the new Mary Poppins sequel, now filming in London.

SRJC students could not have been more excited to participate in this semester’s musical production. While some schools have struggled to cast non-white actors for “In the Heights,” many of those who auditioned for the show at SRJC were people of color. The show’s director, John Shillington, was pleased to find how many students of color wanted to be involved in the production. He believes the production becomes more powerful the more the actors are intertwined with their roles, and that it helps make Miranda’s message of unity more clear to the audience.

“In the Heights” makes an important point about diversity in theater. It gives voice not only to Latino Americans, but African Americans, Asian Americans and other immigrant communities. Shillington chose to include the production this semester because of its timeliness, dramatizing the current issue of immigration in our country. As a past resident of Guatemala and father of two Guatemalan children, Shillington holds Latino culture dear. “We need to spread awareness about humanizing the immigrant community,” he said.

SRJC actors are part of a production that has a lot to say to its audience about our current culture and state of mind. It’s a show not to be missed.

“In the Heights” runs April 21  through May 7, with both matinee and evening performances. Tickets are $12-22.

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