No Me Diga

So many people know Lin-Manuel Miranda for his Tony winning musical, “Hamilton: An American Musical”. But so many of those same people forget that he had made a musical before that. “In The Heights” is a musical set in Washington Heights where the main character, Usnavi, runs a bodega along with his cousin, Sonny. All of the characters come from a poor background which is why in the song 96,000, they all say what they would do if they were to win the lottery.  They are all dreaming of what it would be like to live more comfortably than they currently are.

“In The Heights” truly showcases what it is like to be struggling financially, especially in Hispanic neighborhoods. In the opening song, “In The Heights”, many of the problems of the community is expressed. Usnavi’s fridge breaks in the first verse so all of the things in the fridge had gone bad. That led to Usnavi panicking about how he would continue to sell coffee without milk. He figures it out, but that also doesn’t solve his broken fridge. He doesn’t have enough money to buy a new fridge out of nowhere. Throughout the whole opening song, everyone’s struggles mainly have to do with the expensive rent.

Although the plot is not just about the struggle of living in Washington Heights, it is clearly the reason so many of the characters feel stressed in their lives. For example, in the song 96,000, many of the characters talk about doing luxurious things with the lottery money if they had one. Sonny talks about how he would fix up his house and how he would help make the community better, and the rest of the cast scoffs at him for being “boring”. However, Usnavi brings everyone back to reality when he says that 96,000 dollars would barely save him from his financial ruins. The others sadly accept that he is right but understand where he is coming from.

“In The Heights” brings many issues to the table. From financial instability to dropping out of college to immigrants, Lin-Manuel Miranda puts many of his beliefs and thoughts into this now revived Broadway musical. Despite Hamilton being a great musical as well, In the Heights is just as thought-provoking and eccentric. In my opinion, it is truly a toss up as to which musical brings more to the table. The two are so different but so similar that it completely mind-boggles me.

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Hamilton

We all know our founding fathers, and some of the first presidents. Most of them were middle age white men, but imagine if the founding fathers came from different backgrounds. This is exactly what Hamilton the Musical does. It takes major figures in America’s history- Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Eliza Schuyler- and makes them characters of color.Just today I went to go see “Hamilton” in Chicago, and although I have listened to the music non-stop I never realized how diverse the cast really is.

The Musical tells the real-life story of Alexander Hamilton and his fellow revolutionaries through a shockingly diverse cast. When the character of Hamilton first appeared, he was not at all who I was expecting. Growing up in the community that I did, and just based on American History I was expecting Hamilton to be a white male, or possibly a male of puerto rican descent, as he was in the original cast. Instead Hamilton was played by a black actor. This only phased me for a second before I adjusted to what the characters would actually be like. By the end of the opening song the entire cast was onstage, and the show’s only white lead was England’s King George III.

With this one character being the only white lead, I found the shows’ cast and the story they were telling interesting. Here is a cast made almost completely out of colored actors, telling the story of a war that is being fought and wanting to eventually end slavery. In my opinion, there couldn’t have been a better cast to portray these roles. Yes, our founding fathers were white but this cast of all color is going to have a deeper connection and better understanding to the story of wanting to end slavery, because it was their ancestors. They are the ones that the audience may have a racial bias towards everyday when they come out on stage because some people think that just because the founding fathers were white they must be played by white actors. However, this is a white story being told effectively by a cast of color, and it has been hugely appealing to Broadway audiences, which is made up of a mostly white demographic. It seems that, with this cast of color, there is a lesson, and that would be that actors of color are not a liability.