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Rousuck's Review: Lin-Manuel Miranda's "In the Heights," From Broadway To The Big Screen

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A scene from the film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda's "In the Heights," with Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera (center) and cast. (Photo by Macall Polay)

It's time for another visit from Midday's theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom on Skype today with her movie hat on: she spotlights the new film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, In the Heights.

The film musical retains most of the Broadway version's high-spirited songs and signature lyrics, and like the original, it captures the energies and pressures of everyday life in the mainly Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights, in upper Manhattan.

Directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) from a screenplay by the Broadway book writer Quiara Alegría Hudes, the film version moves playwright-composer Lin-Manuel Miranda from his Broadway lead to a secondary role. Actor Anthony Ramos ("A Star is Born, and Broadway's "Hamilton") takes that lead as bodega owner Usnavi, who works hard, saves every penny and dreams (and sings) of a better life. Ramos is joined by a large, talented cast, including Melissa Barrera (TV's "Vida"), Corey Hawkins (“Straight Outta Compton,” “BlacKkKlansman”) and Jimmy Smits (TV's "NPYD Blue" and the “Star Wars” films).

In the Heights is showing at many Baltimore area theaters and is streaming on the HBO Max subscription service.

J. Wynn Rousuck has been reviewing theater for WYPR's Midday (and previously, Maryland Morning) since 2007. Prior to that, she was the theater critic of The Baltimore Sun, where she reviewed more than 3,000 plays over the course of 23 years. Her feature coverage for The Sun included a comprehensive series chronicling the development of the Tony Award-winning musical, “Hairspray.” Judy got her start at The Cleveland Press and at Cleveland’s fine arts radio station, WCLV. Her broadcasting experience also includes a year as an on-air theater critic for Maryland Public Television.
Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Rob is Midday's senior producer.