Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway Musical Sensation, In the Heights Opens The Main Stage

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival launches on the Main Stage with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway Musical Sensation, In the Heights

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival launches its Main Stage summer season with the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights, previewing Wednesday and Thursday, June 14 and 15, opening Friday, June 16, and running through July 2nd at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.

“In the Heights is a revolutionary musical that paved the way for a new sound and new community of artists on Broadway. I am excited to produce this musical that changed the American stage and is still influencing the genre more than two decades after its first performance,” says Jason King Jones artistic director.

Co-written by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes, In the Heights is set over a Fourth of July weekend in the life of the vibrant neighborhood in New York’s Washington Heights—from the vantage point of Usnavi’s corner bodega, we experience a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.

The production will be directed by Valeria Cossu, with choreography by Michael Anthony Sylvester, and musical direction by Walter “Bobby” McCoy.

After an extensive European career, Valeria Cossu is taking over New York City as an accomplished director and choreographer. This summer she makes her PSF directorial debut. As this story relates to her family and community, Cossu shares, “I’m an immigrant. I left my hometown Cagliari in Sardinia over 20 years ago. When you are far away, your community and friends become your familiaIn the Heights represents this concept in such a powerful way. In the specific telling of the story about the Latino community in Washington Heights, the show opened the doors to everybody who experienced the desire of having opportunities for a better life.”

PSF is thrilled to authentically tell this story with artists from Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and a multitude of ethnicities. “We have (in the cast) first-generation, second-generation, and immigrants, as well. What we are bringing to Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is the whole Latin diaspora and I think that is very special,” says Choreographer Michael Anthony Sylvester.

When asked about his choreography, Sylvester said: “This show encompasses musical theatre dance, as well as hip-hop, Latin, salsa, and even Afro-Cuban steps. I sprinkled in steps from everybody’s nation or country that their family has emigrated from. One of the most exciting things about that is every dancer gets to bring their culture into these steps, which makes it an experience unlike any other, because it’s coming personally from the artists as well.”

The cast for In the Heights includes the previously announced Ryan Reyes as Usnavi and Danny Bolero as Kevin; who each played their leading roles in previous productions and share a passion for the story. Their combined experience includes credits from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and film and television. More importantly though, what they bring together is a personal narrative as it relates to their own lives and culture.

Reyes reprises the role of Usnavi, following his performance at the Rubicon Theatre Company, in Ventura, California. An alumnus of the DeSales University theatre program and PSF’s Young Company, Reyes says returning to the role “honors the diverse Lantinx communities” and a role he says he personally relates to, “not only with my Boricua roots, but also growing up knowing the struggles of running a business alongside my parents and siblings.”

Bolero has a long history with the show having played the replacement role of Kevin Rosario in the original Broadway production and originating the role in the 1st National Tour. “It’s very seldom that there’s a musical that speaks to Latinos,” Bolero says. “My parents, who were Mexican, came here with very little education, my dad worked three jobs, and together my parents worked to get us a house and put us through private school. It’s that same immigrant story that’s in the show. I had to be a part of it.”

Joining Reyes and Bolero in the principal cast are Luis-Pablo Garcia (Sonny), Tauren Hagans (Camila), Daisy Marie Lopez (Nina), Solomon Parker III (Benny), Ralphie Rivera de Jesús (Graffiti Pete), Kevin Matthew Solis (Piragūero), Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield (Abuela Claudia), Ariana Valdes (Daniela), Gabrielle Villarreal (Carla), and Chelsea Zeno (Vanessa); along with ensemble members Hugo Brument, Matthew Carter, Alessandra Casanova, Hector Flores Jr, Miguel Flores, Becky Joy, Anjali Kanter, Yoaldri Messina, Alex Osorio, Oscar Antonio Rodriguez, Fran Tapia, and Marina Vidal.

In the Heights will feature costumes by Jeannette Christensen, lighting design by Max Doolittle, and sound design by Hayat Dominguez. Majo Ferrucho is the stage manager and Kelli Herron is the assistant stage manager.

Audiences can enhance the experience before every performance with live music and a variety of dining options “On the Green;” an Opening Night post-show champagne toast with the PSF Company on Friday, June 16; a Director’s Dinner on Wednesday, June 28, at 5pm; a talk-back with the actors after the show on Thursday, June 22 and 29; and an Audio Described and Open Captioned performance on Wednesday, June 28, at 7:30pm.

The Production Sponsor for In the Heights is Alvin H. Butz, the Production Co-Sponsors are Diefenderfer Electrical and Fitzpatrick, Lentz, & Bubba; and the Orchestra Sponsors are Allen Organs and Uline.

The 2023 Season Sponsors are Yvonne Payne and Edward Spitzer. The Associate Season Sponsors are Douglas Dykhouse, Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, The Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.