“In The Heights” Creator Lin Manuel Miranda & Director Jon Chu On Cutting Characters and Songs in Film Adaptation

In the Heights brings to life the big-screen adaptation of the 2008 Tony-winning musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes.

The film tells the story of a group of Washington Heights residents who all have “sueñitos,” or little dreams. We meet Usnavi – portrayed by Anthony Ramos– who longs to return to the Dominican Republic to reopen the beachside bar that his late parents ran. Meanwhile, Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), Usnavi’s crush, yearns to quit her job at the beauty salon run by Daniela (Daphne Rubin-Vega), move downtown, and become a fashion designer. Nina Rosario (Leslie Grace) is back home after freshman year in college and has to deal with her father, Kevin’s (Jimmy Smits) high expectations for her versus the reality of being a Latina at Stanford. There’s Benny (Corey Hawkins), who works for Nina’s father, and is in love with her. And then there’s Sonny (Gregory Diaz IV), Usnavi’s cousin, who helps him run the shop. His dreams include help for others. As a Dreamer, organizing protests to protect his future in the face of threats to DACA.

Jill Munroe talked with Manuel Miranda and the film’s director, Jon Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), about deciding what characters and musical numbers to leave out when adapting the project from stage to screen during a roundtable conversation between the cast and creators had with the African-American Film Critics Association.


The film also features Olga Merediz, Stephanie Beatriz, and Dascha Polanco. It arrives in theatres and HBO MAX on June 11.