SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe opens its 2017-2018 season with In the Heights, with music and lyrics by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and the book written by Quiara Alegría Hudes. Show runs from October 11 – November 19.
A decade before Hamilton took Broadway – and the world – by storm, Miranda had already achieved success with In the Heights, the show that won the Best Musical Tony Award in 2008, along with three other Tonys and the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album. In the Heights takes place in the mostly Latino Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, where Miranda (who is largely of Puerto Rican descent) himself grew up. Its genesis dates all the way back to Miranda’s sophomore year of college at Wesleyan University, where he wrote the earliest draft.
The production tells the captivating story of a vibrant Latino community where the corner bodega serves the sweetest coffee, the hair salon is gossip central, and the residents chase the American dream while clinging to their roots. This high energy, multi-Tony Award-winning musical pulsates with a spirited hip-hop beat and scorching Latin-infused rhythms.
“This production represents our first foray into the Afro-Caribbean genre,” said WBTT founder and artistic director Jacobs. “In the Heights tells the story of one neighborhood of American dreamers striving for love, fortune and happiness, and reaches out to those in the audience of every background who share the same hopes. WBTT is sure to enchant audiences with its flair and unique style.”
Director/choreographer is Jim Weaver. Music director is Thomas Craig Buckley and production stage manager is Juanita Munford. Lighting designer is Michael Pasquini, set designers are Mark and Donna Buckalter, assistant set designer is Michael Newton-Brown, costume designer is David Walker and production manager is James Dodge II.
The cast includes popular WBTT artist Michael Mendez in the lead role as Usnavi. Other performers include Renata Eastlick, Brian L. Boyd, Kat Sallet, Emily Barnash, Raleigh Mosely, II, Troy D. Wallace, Michael Kinsey, Matthew Curtis and Maite Uzal. Ensemble artists include Donald Frison, Derric Gobourne, Jr., Chakara Rosa, Brentney Stephens, Sydney Warner and Arthur Wesley.
“As our organization grows and evolves, we feel confident that In the Heights is the perfect offering to launch our 2017-2018 season,” said WBTT executive director Julie Leach. “While our focus continues to be on African American stories, music and culture, we are also proud to mentor and train artists of diverse ethnic backgrounds. We’re excited to expand our definition of diversity to include this high-energy, high-hopes show featuring Afro-Caribbean culture and music.”
Performances, which take place at the WBTT theater (1646 10th Way, Sarasota) are 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $42/adults, $20/students and active military with valid ID. Call the Box Office at (941) 366-1505) or go to westcoastblacktheatre.org.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.