Carson High School

Carson’s ‘In the Heights’ production reflects student actors’ life experiences

Carson High School’s theatre department performed “In the Heights” in March, directed by performing arts teachers Gale Kadota and Marcia Barryte.

The story takes the course of three days, involving characters in a large Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City. The musical features hip-hop, salsa, merengue and soul music.

Senior Angel Luna was the stage manager, under Barryte’s direction.

“The lessons that can be learned is to not give up on things they believe in and live on day at a time,” Luna said. “‘In the Heights’ shows the real struggles people go through, and how the outcome of some struggles can be good.”

In the Latino community of Manhattan’s Washington Heights, bodega owner Usnavi is dating Vanessa, who works in a beauty salon. He dreams of opening a bar in his home country, the Dominican Republic.

Carson senior Brandon Mendez said playing the role of Usnavi taught him how to apply his life experience into his acting.

“Being Latino, I love how it tells the story through Latino/Hispanic characters. It tells the stories of people coming from other countries and finding their home in America,” Mendez said.

A Carson High School alumnus, Jacinda Flores works with Disney, Kadota said.

“The lessons that I’ve learned from students is that some are extremely capable and willing to try different jobs related to building the show and others would rather do nothing and fail,” Kadota said. “I have many students who have actually decided to go after careers in the industry.”

The broadway musical was created in the early 2000s with music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, based off the book by Quiara Alegria Hudes.

The storyline follows Nina who loves Benny, a shy young man who has worked for Nina’s parents for years, but her father doesn’t approve of their relationship because he wants Nina to finish her education at Stanford University. She doesn’t want her father to bankrupt himself paying for the expensive school, but her father is prepared to sell his car service business.

“This show is about a day in the life of what it’s like in Washington Heights. We see a heavy Latino community, with their everyday life,” Carson junior Samantha Salana said. “One lesson I can get from it is follow your dreams, finding home and enjoy your life.”