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In many ways this captures so much of what I love about this gloriously warm, joyful, affirming musical. The hip-hop rhythms, the fast-paced rhymes, the stunning overlapping and harmonizing of voices that this section leads into: all this and more is why In the Heights propelled Lin-Manuel to super-stardom as a writer, musician, actor and singer. When it opened on Broadway in 2008, In the Heights became an instant hit. It won four Tony Awards® (including Best Musical and Best Original Score), a Grammy award and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. In just a few short years, Lin-Manuel would go on to write Hamilton (perhaps you’ve heard of it?), but already in his Broadway debut it was clear that he had created a new sound that was destined to wake up and reinvigorate the Broadway musical. From hip-hop to salsa, the music of In the Heights is authentic, dazzling, intoxicating and get-up-and-dance fun.

But what makes In the Heights more than just a vehicle for Lin-Manuel’s stunning score is its heart. Together with Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the script, Lin-Manuel has created a celebration of family and a love letter to the power of community. The musical takes place in New York’s Washington Heights. Neighbors know each other here. Indeed, they live in apartments where their friends and family live one floor above them or are coming and going on the street below. Open the window, look outside and see community. People who know you, who care about you, who sometimes limit you in how they define you but who love you through and through. The kind of close-knit neighborhood that can cause a young person to want to break free and never look back, only to realize the power of home. “I know them all and that’s what makes my life complete.” If you’re lucky, you have a family, friends and a community like this.

To bring a story about family, community and collective joy to life requires a very special leader. We’ve got that with this production: director James Vásquez is making his Dallas Theater Center debut, but I very much hope he returns to Dallas in the years ahead and continues to create work for our community. Choreographer Rickey Tripp, who was in the original Broadway cast of In the Heights, has also choreographed multiple productions at Dallas Theater Center (most recently, Hairspray) – wherever Rickey may go, he knows that Dallas Theater Center is always a home, just waiting for him to return. They’re joined by Music Director Gary Adler, whose work – along with a brilliant cast and band – will dazzle you.

Most importantly, I hope that as you experience In the Heights you will also experience Dallas Theater Center’s core artistic values: that theater is the birthright of everyone; that we find joy in telling a wide range of diverse stories and welcoming all voices; and that we are stronger when we come together than when we stand alone.