Pasco High School's 'In the Heights' Musical opens April 25

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerApril 19, 2013 

Lin-Manuel Miranda became a hot American composer after his musical, In the Heights, debuted on Broadway in 2008.

It was nominated for 13 Tony Awards, winning best musical, choreography, orchestration and original score. It also earned a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2009.

The Pasco High School Choir department will give Tri-Citians a taste of that Broadway hit when it presents the musical April 25-27 and May 2-4 in the Gregson Auditorium at the high school. Showtime is 7 p.m.

In the Heights tells the story of life in the mostly Dominican-American barrio of Washington Heights in New York City.

"In the Heights is an authentic and exhilarating journey into one of Manhattan's most vibrant communities," said Rob Dennis, a Pasco High music teacher. "With its universal themes of family, community and self-discovery, it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds."

Dennis is producing the show, and Tiffany Buissink is directing.

"We thought this show was the perfect choice for Pasco High," Dennis said. "It touches on so many themes that are relevant to our kids: coming of age as a child of immigrants in the United States; grappling with issues of self-identity; discovering what it means to belong to a community; finding where you are truly at home.

"And, it's also this incredible Latin and hip-hop music, which makes it exciting for the actors and the audience. Lin-Manuel Miranda is an amazing talent."

Dennis added that the musical was released for amateur production in January, which means Pasco High is one of the first schools in the country to present it. The rights were purchased through Rogers & Hammerstein Theatricals, which licenses performing rights, and has long been an advocate for making great shows accessible, particularly to schools, he added.

There are 35 actors in the show and a 10-person tech crew. Lead actors are senior Franklin Castellanos as Usnavi de la Vega, sophomore Carrie Nolan as Vanessa, senior Daniel Haug as Benny, senior Bianca Navarette as Nina Rosario, junior Anthony Garcia as Kevin Rosario, junior Omar Spindola as Sonny, sophomore Olivia Elizondo as Abuela Claudio, junior Joanna Barajas as Daniela, senior Megan Rocha as Carla, senior Oziel Lopez as Piraguero and junior Na'Shon Hill as Graffiti Pete.

"We've also had countless parents and other adults from the community contribute time and talent for this show, from playing in the pit orchestra to constructing sets to helping with hair and makeup," Dennis said. "Tiffany is directing the show. She is an amazing teacher who is currently a long-term substitute teacher in the English department. She has a degree in theater and a talent for motivating kids."

Advance tickets to the show cost $12 for reserved and $8 for general admission seating. At the door, the prices are $15 and $10. Tickets can be purchased at the high school office, 1108 N. 10th Ave.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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