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PHOTO FLASH: 'In The Heights' 2nd National Tour in Rehearsals

Exciting, passionate and historical. That's how Michael Balderrama, resident director and choreographer of In The Heights, has described the cast for the Second National Tour of the musical, who started rehearsals in New York last September 12th. A brand new cast has been gathered to bring the award-winning show across the States. "All of them are fresh, from top to bottom, there's no one who has been on the show before," Balderrama explains. "They're young, passionate and excited about being part of ‘In The Heights'. All of them are people who are just inspired by the show"

Back in June, Lin-Manuel talked to BroadwayWorld about this tour at Pearl Studios, where the auditions took place: "These people are so talented. Having talent doesn't necessarily mean that you have an equity card. I've come to more of these auditions than I did with the original Broadway cast, and it's so inspiring... Every time I come to see a dance audition it's like a Chorus Line for real!"

In the creative team, the original group of talent who put on the show back in 2008 - Thomas Kail (artistic director), Alex Lacamoire (musical director), Andy Blankenbuehler (choreographer) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (composer) - will bring the story of Usnavi and his neighbourhood in Washington Heights once again.

The number of cast members has been reduced and the stage is different. "I started with the show by the time it was in off Broadway," Balderrama says "before it jumped to the bigger theatre, and this new tour makes it closer to the smaller community theatre concept. The main characters are still there, the same songs, same show, same quality, but the vibe is more like in the original version."

The tour, which will kick off next October 7th in Clemson, is going to travel the States and perform in more than 60 cities all over the country. Work Light is the producing company behind this second national tour of the show. They've also produced the national tour of Avenue Q.

The cast is lead by Perry Young as Usnavi, Robert Ramirez as Sonny, Kyle Carter as Benny, Virginia Cavaliere as Nina, Candida Celaya-Orosco as Abuela Claudia, Presilah Nuñez as Vanessa, Celina Clarich Polanco as Camila, Katherine Brady as Carla, Tauren Hagans as Daniela and Roddy Kennedy as Graffity Pete. In the ensemble, Carleigh Bettiol, Chloe Campbell, Gabriel Gonzalez, Sasha Hollinger, Lovar Davis Kidd, Nathaly Lopez, Jeffrey Nuñez, Kyle Taylor Parker, Dominic Carlos Pierson, Cameron Burke, Nicole Paloma Cline and Greer Gisy.

In the Heights opened on Broadway to wide critical acclaim on March 9, 2008, and closed on January 9, 2011, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. In addition to winning the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show's creator, won the Tony Award for Best Music and Lyrics; Andy Blankenbuehler won for Best Choreography; and Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman won for Best Orchestrations. The original cast recording won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, and Universal Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a feature film based on the smash hit musical.

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Juan-Jose Gonzalez He was born in Zarzalejo, Madrid (1983). He studied Medicine in Universidad Complutense, and he's always been an avid theater-goer, specially musical theatre. He's attended all the shows he's been able to in Madrid and Barcelona, and from the first time he visited Broadway he wanted to know everything about this world. Soon after he started the first website in spanish dedicated to musical theatre, Palco5.com, along with a great team filled with people who share a great admiration for musicals. From 2007 they've covered all the events, news, and Palco5 has become very well known among the national artists. Working in BWW, letting users from all countries know about spanish scene, is a great joy for him.