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"Light's up/ on Washington Heights, up/ at the break of day/ I wake up/ and I got this little punk I gotta chase away."
So begins Lin-Manuel Miranda's 2008 Broadway hit. Set in the neighbourhood Washington Heights of NYC, In the Heights is a musical covering three days in the lives of its colorful characters. Usnavi, the main character, runs his family's bodega with his young cousin, Sonny. Vanessa, the oblivious target of Usnavi's attraction, works herself to exhaustion to buy her way to a better life. The Rosarios run their taxi business and support their brilliant young daughter, Nina.
In the Heights is especially notable for being the first Broadway musical of its kind, a combination of rap, hip-hop and Latin. Needless to say, it's some kind of awesome.
Warning: Soundtrack is guaranteed to lead to side effects of toe-tapping, humming and spontaneous dancing.
Provides examples of:
- Annoying Younger Cousin: Sonny
- Subverted in that Sonny is fairly intelligent with a comically strong vocabulary (he seems to take after Usnavi a bit) and interest in politics and social activism. He also has shades of being the Only Sane Man as his introspections on what Usnavi's departure and the closing of the surrounding shops means for the community causes him to despair when others are partying.
- Arc Words: "Paciencia y Fe" (Patience and Faith). Also might count as a Catch Phrase, for Abuela.
- "No pare, sigue, sigue!"."
- Author Avatar: Usnavi, obviously, as the creator played him on Broadway (and he named his character's Love Interest after his wife).
- Beta Couple: Benny and Nina...which is an odd example, because they're given as much stagetime and development as the Official Couple.
- Bigger Is Better in Bed:
Daniela: They say he's got quite a big..taxi.
- Bittersweet Ending: There's some happy endings, some sad and everyone's lives have changed. Benny and Nina in particular They're going to be forced to have a long distance relationship without the approval of her dad. But they have each other
- Cannot Spit It Out: Oh, Usnavi.
"Damn, this is nice/I really like what they've done with the lights/so the hot club in Washington Heights!/You might be right, this music's tight/Yo, did I mention that you look great tonight?/Because you do you really-"
- Oh, Vanessa.
Vanessa: You oughta stay/ You can use that money to fix this place/ And it's not like Sonny's got role models stepping up to the plate./ I'm just saying, I think your vacation can wait...
- Anyone looking for "artistic merit" to justify this awesome play to Broadway purists can point out that Champagne (both song and object) is a complex metaphor for Usnavi and Vanessa's unspoken feelings (and their inability to admit them).
- Crowd Song: "In The Heights", "96,000", "Blackout", "Carnaval del Barrio", and "Finale".
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose In Life: Nina
- Daddy's Girl: Nina, even though she and Kevin begin arguing more and more during the show.
- Dawson Casting: Several of the characters, most notably Nina and Sonny
- Averted in the Philippine production. K-La Rivera was 19 when they started rehearsals.
- The Ditz: Carla
- Ear Worm
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Piragua Guy, Graffiti Pete.
- Evolving Music: In 96,000, Sonny sings "What about immigration/Politicians be hating/Racism in this nation's gone from latent to blatant". After some high-profile political racefail hit the news, the line was changed to "Arizona be hating".
- Final Love Duet: Two. "Champagne" for Usnavi and Vanessa and "When the Sun Goes Down" for Nina and Benny.
- Gratuitous Spanish: Well, of course. Everyone but Benny is Hispanic.
- Usually for comical reasons, or at times when the heritage of the cast is highlighted, such as:
Carla: Dani, I have a question; I don't know what you're cantando.
- Grief Song: "Alabanza"
- Gossipy Hens: Carla and Daniela
- Happily Married: Kevin and Camila
- Hello, Nurse!: Vanessa is a tame version of this trope. Usnavi and most of the guys drool over her but no one actually gets ridiculous about it (as in it never gets to Informed Attractiveness levels). Vanessa herself doesn't think it's that big of a deal.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Daniela and Carla. Sonny and Graffiti Pete of all people come across as this. Benny and Usnavi also have some shade of this.
- If I Were a Rich Man: "$96,000"
- Like Brother and Sister: Nina and Usnavi have this dynamic
- Line-of-Sight Name: Usnavi. Overlaps with Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?.
- Lottery Ticket
- Kissing in a Tree: In the song "Carnaval Del Barrio" in Act 2, Daniela asks Benny if he's "seen any horses, today", having heard that he and Nina "went for a roll in the hay". The whole cast then proceeds to sing said song.
- Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: The opening (aptly titled "In the Heights"), "96,000", and "Blackout".
- Mood Whiplash: A few examples, the biggest being "Alabanza" following the peppy "Carnaval del Barrio".
- Motor Mouth: Usnavi can sometimes be like this, especially in the "one dollar, two dollars..." part of the opening number.
- Overlaps with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness to a minor extent. Usnavi has a noticeably greater vocabulary and can fire off complex metaphors off the top of his head, as seen when he tries to chat up a hot girl at the club.
- Oblivious to Love: Subverted with Vanessa. She seems to be a more then a little aware of Usnavi's feelings but plays dumb since she is denial about her own feelings.
- One of Us: Lin-Manuel Miranda reads slash fic for In the Heights and live tweets Buffy. Oh, and he wrote a rap for Neil Patrick Harris.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Sonny owns this role.
- Ripped from the Headlines: See Evolving Music above.
- Rhyming with Itself
- Say My Name: After Nina's dinner and when Kevin reveals he has sold the family business to pay for Nina's college tuition, Nina tells her father that she will never use this money as it has lost Benny his job. She proceeds to follow Benny to the club. At this, Kevin yells "NIINAAAAAAAAAA!"
- Spicy Latina: Vanessa, Camila, and Daniela
- Shout-Out: Plenty, ranging from Kiss Me Kate to Sesame Street.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Vanessa and Usnavi
- Spiritual Sequel: Fans of Rent will probably become easily attached to this musical.
- Stepford Smiler: Nina attempts to pull this off in the beginning of the show. She fails.
Nina: Straighten the spine, smile for the neighbors/ Everything's fine, everything's cool...
- Team Mom: Abuela Claudia.
- Usnavi seems to take over the role after the finale, acting as the "street-light" for the community--providing illumination, learning and passing on their shared stories and heritages, and binding them together. And, of course, providing sweet, sweet coffee.
- The Musical: Book kind
- Token Non-Latino: Benny, who is almost always played by a black man, though theoretically could be played any other ethnicity.
- Graffiti Pete can be any ethnicity as well, the most common being Latino and white.
- The One Who Made It Out: Double subverted with Nina. She dropped out of Stanford, but is going back in the fall.
- Triumphant Reprise: The Piragua Guy gets a pretty funny one.
- True Companions: With Abuela acting as grandmother to the entire street, it made everyone feel a little more like family.
- Victorious Childhood Friend: Inferred about Usnavi/Vanessa and Nina/Benny.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: Well, they are in New York...