(Joan Marcus/Playbill)
Diamond Bar High School

‘In the Heights’: the musical behind ‘Hamilton’

“And that’s when I knew Lin [Manuel-Miranda] was not trying to be funny at all, like I really knew he was really serious about it,” said music supervisor, orchestrator and co-arranger Alex Lacamoire.

“Hamilton,” the current box office breaking musical that defies almost every rule of “classic” theatre, has left the world in awe with its unexpected modern interpretation of the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton and the unending beat within the unimaginable experience.

Yet as Lin Manuel-Miranda’s “cabinet” masterminds behind the award-winning musical sat together at the Hollywood Pantages Theater for the L.A. Times Ideas Hamilton Exchange, Lacamoire, Andy Blankenbuehler, and Thomas Kail seemed almost even more inclined to bring the spotlight onto Lin’s first musical, “In the Heights,” throughout the entire interview. Director Kail even jokingly urged the audience to cheer every time he said “In the Heights”.

Lin’s “In the Heights”, a culture-based musical about the “New York City Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights,” seemed to have truly grown the seed of inspiration for the box-office-breaking “Hamilton” musical for Lin and his cabinet.

In fact, this masterpiece created by 19-year-old Lin is what led “Hamilton” to the limelight at the literal heart of America—the White House—in 2009.

“It was an event to celebrate the spoken word and they wanted Lin to perform a piece from ‘In the Heights’ and for whatever reason… he said, ‘Well, listen. I know In the Heights is cool, but I can actually do this hot sixteen of Alexander Hamilton’… and it became this event that we performed,” Lacamoire said.

Additionally, the crew’s strong chemistry, developed from “In the Heights”, enhanced the creation of their new ‘American musical’.

Choreographer Blankenbuehler said, “We were finishing the last day of tech for ‘In the Heights’ on Broadway… it was at like 10:00 at night… and on the ten minute break, the whole team wrote the Piragua Reprise. Everything immediately heightened.”

So, in the midst of the “Hamilton” frenzy of trying to buy the last remaining tickets at your local theatre, maybe take a second to look back at “In the Heights” and admire the growth of the “beat that never stops.”

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