The department of theatre and Mustard and Cheese Drama Society held their opening virtual performance of “In The Heights” on Feb. 26.
The show can be streamed through daily showings on YouTube at 7 p.m. until March 5.
The musical, which is written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and based on Quiara Alegría Hudes’ book, tells the story of a Dominican neighborhood in Washington Heights, New York City. The production first opened on Broadway in 2008.
Accompanied by a score featuring hip-hop, Latin rhythms and soul music, the story focuses on the struggles and triumphs of individuals and families in a minority community.
Ivery Marquez, ‘23, directed the virtual production of the show.
Marquez said as a first-time director, she received consistent support from the theatre department. Whether it was attending meetings or working out the music and production rights, she said the process was stressful, but she was confident everything would work out.
“Once we got in rehearsal and the cast got together, it was a really fun and enjoyable experience to see it come together, even through a virtual setting,” Marquez said. “It was a very supportive and beautiful space.”
The show was pre-recorded and each cast member performed their parts separately. Despite the challenges of performing virtually, Marquez said the whole production was successful and came together well.
Gaby Garcia-Figueroa, ‘23, attended opening night. She said she was impressed with the scenes and as a first-generation student, was touched by many of the character’s struggles.
“It’s everyday struggles that people don’t imagine or they don’t realize that minorities have to face,” Garcia said.
Michael Stevanovich, ‘23, said every member of the production had to work closely with one another to make the show a success. This included being in sync while rehearsing song and dance numbers.
Stevanovich, who participated in his first Lehigh production, plays Kevin Rosario, a father who immigrated from Puerto Rico and started his own business. He said the cast had great chemistry and formed a tight bond, even on Zoom.
“You really have to be confident in your parts because you don’t have the cues you have when you’re on stage,” he said. “You can’t rely on someone else singing their part so you know when to come in.”
Justin Velez, ‘24, plays the role of Sonny, who provides a comedic presence in the show.
He said he has done musicals in the past but this was his first experience performing virtually.
“Getting to know the cast and their personalities, it was really uplifting for the times we’re in and I really enjoyed it,” Velez said. “I had a lot of fun with them.”
Juan Aleman, ‘23, said he was grateful for the cast members he met during the experience, especially after feeling isolated for so long.
Aleman plays the major role of Usnavi, the owner of a small bodega in Washington Heights.
“Everyone had to put in a lot of work to get this done in a timely fashion and also have it be good,” Aleman said.
Each of the cast members, as well as Marquez, recognized the timeliness of putting on a show like “In The Heights.”
The story highlights experiences for individuals who are BIPOC and gives Lehigh students the opportunity to embrace and learn about varying cultures.
“This level of representation in a show is really groundbreaking,” Stevanovich said. “Since we go to a predominantly white institution, giving students of color a voice, especially this year and a chance to tell our story—to tell the story of Washington Heights and gentrification that goes on in the play, it is important for representation.”