Walnut Street Theatre Opens 205th Season with IN THE HEIGHTS, 9/3
Walnut Street Theatre opens its landmark 205th season with the groundbreaking 21st century musical IN THE HEIGHTS. Directed by Bruce Lumpkin, with choreography by Michelle Gaudette, this exhilarating musical about chasing your dreams and finding your true home begins previews on September 3rd, opens on September 11th and runsthrough October 20th on the WST Mainstage.
IN THE HEIGHTS tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York's Washington Heights neighborhood - a place where the coffee from the corner coffee shop is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It's a community on the brink of change, full of hopes and dreams where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind. With a gripping story and incredible music and dance, IN THE HEIGHTS is the next chapter in the classic American story.
IN THE HEIGHTS was conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda in 1999 while in his sophomore year at Wesleyan University, where the show had its world premiere. After revisions it was presented at the 2005 National Music Theatre Conference in Connecticut. In 2007, IN THE HEIGHTS had its Off-Broadway premiere, where it received nine nominations for Drama Desk Awards, winning two. Its Broadway premiere came in 2008 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre where it ran for 1,184 performances. The show was recognized with four Tony Awards from its 13 nominations, a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. It was critically acclaimed, with Ben Brantley of The New York Times noting IN THE HEIGHTS as "an exuberant animated shrine to the importance of family ties and being faithful to where you come from."
The 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner, and Philadelphia local, Quiara Alegría Hudes wrote the book for IN THE HEIGHTS. This is not the first time Hudes' work has been produced by the Walnut. In 2010 Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and the first in a trilogy of plays, was produced in the Walnut's Independence Studio on 3. It was the second play in this trilogy, Water by the Spoonful, which received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. The third play will be produced later this year in Chicago.
Hudes has been recognized with honors including the United States Artists Fontanals Fellowship, the Joyce Fellowship at the Goodman Theatre, the Aetna New Voices Fellowship at Hartford Stage, the Roe Green Award at the Cleveland Playhouse, fellowships at Sundance Theater Institute and the O'Neill Theater Center, a residency at New Dramatists and a Resolution from The City of Philadelphia in 2011. A graduate of Philadelphia's Central High School, she was recently inducted into their Hall of Fame which makes her the first Latina and one of the first two women to receive this honor since the school's founding in 1836.
Bruce Lumpkin returns to the Walnut to direct. He has directed numerous Mainstage and Studio 3 productions, including last season's Grease and the highly acclaimed Miss Saigon, Fiddler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha, Cabaret, Evita, Grand Hotel, La Vie En Bleu, and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. Choreographer Michelle Gaudette will light up the stage with hip, sultry dances complimented by beats provided by Musical Director Douglass G. Lutz. Gaudette has previously choreographed at the Walnut for productions including Grease, Miss Saigon, Fiddler on the Roof, State Fair, Man of La Mancha, Carousel and Evita. Musical Director Douglass G. Lutz has guided numerous Mainstage musicals for the past thirteen seasons, most recently Grease, The Music Man, Miss Saigon, Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.