Rubicon Theatre to Present Luis Salgado-Helmed IN THE HEIGHTS Beginning This Month

Performances run from October 29 through November 13.

By: Oct. 15, 2022
Rubicon Theatre to Present Luis Salgado-Helmed IN THE HEIGHTS Beginning This Month
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Rehearsals are underway for the centerpiece of Rubicon Theatre Company's 2022-2023 "Welcome Home" Season - IN THE HEIGHTS by Lin-Manuel Miranda (the creator of Hamilton) and QUIARA ALEGRÍA HUDES. Winner of Tony, Grammy and Olivier Awards, IN THE HEIGHTS is a heartfelt, hopeful, high-energy musical about community, neighborhood and finding where you belong.

The story takes place over three days in a close-knit neighborhood in Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, New York City - a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries the rhythms of three generations of music. In his review of the Broadway production, CHARLES ISHERWOOD of the New York Times called the show, "An exuberant, animated shrine to the importance of family ties and being faithful to where you come from."

Rubicon's production of In the Heights opens October 29 and closes November 13, with low-priced previews October 26-28. Performances are Wednesdays through Sundays at Rubicon's home, the recently named Karyn Jackson Theatre at 1006 E. Main in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District. Many performances of IN THE HEIGHTS are already sold-out and tickets are going fast. For reservations, call (805) 667-2900 or visit the company's website at www.rubicontheatre.org.

Director/Choreographer's Connection to the Show

Rubicon's production is helmed by international director and choreographer and Broadway veteran Luis Salgado. Salgado's long history with IN THE HEIGHTS began shortly after he arrived in New York from Puerto Rico. when he was invited to serve as Latin Assistant Choreographer and cast member for the original Tony Award-winning production. In 2017, Salgado directed and choreographed the U.S. Spanish-language premiere of IN THE HEIGHTS in Washington D.C., which received nine Helen Hayes Awards including Best Musical, Best Direction and Best Choreography.

Other directorial credits include a new adaptation of the musical Fame at Gala Theatre (Helen Hayes Award for Best Musical), the Puerto Rican company and U.S. National Tour of On Your Feet, and a wide range of comedies, dramas and musicals in Germany, Holland, Colombia, and Peru. As a performer, Salgado's remarkable career includes the roles of Kid Rizzo in Rocky, Malik in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Kenny in On Your Feet on Broadway, as well as Pre-Broadway and Off-Broadway productions and film work.

According to Rubicon Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns, "I couldn't be more excited about this production. Luis is one of the most brilliant and visionary directors I have ever encountered, and we are honored to have him lead this special production. Luis and the cast bring great emotional depth and connection to this simple, universal story to which everyone will relate."

"The choreography is astonishing," continues Burns. "The storytelling through movement is incredibly specific, and the athleticism will be thrilling in our intimate space. From the very first moment of the performance, audience members will feel like they are a part of the barrio."

Three Community Outreach Initiatives and School Partnerships Reach Thousands

Salgado is a founder and director of R.Evolución Latina, an outreach program of Actors' Equity Association, and Founder of Salgado Productions, an organization committed to creating "art with a purpose" that challenges the status quo and provides extensive training and development opportunities for artists. After a months-long courtship and a visit to Ventura, Salgado worked Rubicon into his busy schedule because the company's commitment to education and community engagement was so aligned with his own.

Rubicon and Salgado Productions first partnered in the summer by offering free dance and vocal workshops for area residents interested in auditioning for the show. Says Burns, "We didn't want to do a show about neighborhood without reaching out to our own, and it has been a joy. Each of the more than 85 people who participated threw themselves into the classes. Some had prior performing experience and were expanding their skills; others had never done anything like this before but had raw talent and a passion to perform. Others just thought it might be a fun way to learn something new and meet new people."

Over eight weeks (eight hours a week), everyone who participated grew and made new friends. Twenty community members ended up auditioning for the show and three talented locals were cast in the production (XIMENA VALENTINA ALVEAR of Oxnard, as well as RAEGAN DELGADO and DREAMER RAE WILSON of Ventura).

The second part of the IN THE HEIGHTS educational initiative took place over the past two weeks in a groundbreaking new program combining assemblies and classroom workshops. The beautifully diverse 21-member cast (primarily Latine, with some Black and Native American artists) traveled to schools in Ventura and Oxnard Unified School Districts, reaching nearly 5,000 students. In VUSD, 55% of students identify as Hispanic/Latino; 93.2%; in Oxnard.

The third component of the IN THE HEIGHTS outreach continues in October and November, when high school students will attend daytime student matinees of the show at the theatre. The student matinees will include talkbacks with the artists after the show as well as study guides with background and suggested classroom exercises.

Diverse Cast Includes International Artists, Broadway Veterans and Local Latine Artists Making Professional Debuts IN THE HEIGHTS features the largest Rubicon cast since the company's hugely successful production of Fiddler on the Roof. The international group includes artists from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Spain and Italy; Broadway veterans from New York; beloved L.A.-based artists; regional performers from Orlando, St. Louis, and Northern California; as well as three local artists from Oxnard and Ventura making their professional debuts with IN THE HEIGHTS.

The cast is led by Ryan Reyes as bodega-owner Usnavi (originally played by Lin Manuel-Miranda), who introduces audiences to the characters and is our guide through the story. Reyes recently made his Off-Broadway debut at New World Stages in Americano: The Musical as Fro Valdovinos. Other credits include work with Florida Repertory Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. When not on stage, Reyes is a horse trainer and a stuntman in Western independent films.

LUIS PABLO GARCIA, a 20-year-old first-generation Cuban-American and Miami Native, plays Usnavi's young cousin Sonny, who helps him at the bodega. Garcia graduated from New World School of the Arts High School in 2020 and was recently seen in the World Premiere and pre-Broadway tryout of The Karate Kid: The Musical at Stages St. Louis.

The role of Graffiti Pete, Sonny's partner in crime, usually played by a male, has been reconceived by Salgado and is played by Mariana Herrera JURI (she/her). An award-winning National Dance Champion based in Colombia, at the age of 18 Herrera has already amassed impressive professional credits in New York, New Jersey and Northern California. She also serves as Associate Choreographer.

Vanessa, who works at the neighborhood salon and dreams of getting out of the barrio, is played by LAURA LEBRÓN, an actress, singer and acrobat born and raised in the Dominican Republic, where she was twice nominated for Best Actress at the Dominican Soberano Awards. Laura is a Helen Hayes Award winner for IN THE HEIGHTS in Washington, D.C.

New York-native Susan Oliveras makes her West Coast debut as salon owner Daniela in this production, having recently played trailblazing Hispanic suffragist Nina Otero in the acclaimed Off-Broadway run of Suffs at The Public Theatre.

Yan Carlos Diaz (he/she) blazes a new trail in the show as the first LGBTQIA+ Gender-Queer stage artist to play the role of Daniela's confidante Carla. Diaz' credits include Blessica Williams in Gorgeous a new musical, the title role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the Broadway Easter Bonnet Competition at The Minskoff.

Current New York-based artists Danny Bolero and LAURA CASTRILLÓN play Kevin and Camilla Rosario, respectively, owners of the local taxi service and parents of college student Nina, played by CORINNE MILLER (a recent graduate of Hartt School). Bolero, reprises the role he played in the Broadway production of IN THE HEIGHTSand the First National Tour. IN THE HEIGHTS is his third show at Rubicon, and he recently closed in Plaza Suite on Broadway with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. Castrillón's recent credits include Spanish productions of Ghost and Jovencito, Frankenstein, tick...tick...BOOM! (Best Actress Award), and TV shows like "La que se Avecina" and "Centro Medico."

JEFFREY NUNEZ (Piragua Guy), who played various roles in the Second National Tour of IN THE HEIGHTS, also hails from New York, as do ensemble members and AMDA alums Bryan Menjivar (Rappucinni's Daughter Off-Broadway) and RACQUEL WILLIAMS (The Magnificent Seven, a new Off-Broadway musical about 1996 Olympic gymnastics); and PRANJAAL Luna'RAI (Ensemble/Yolanda), who recently appeared in Salgado's production of Fame En Español in D.C.

SUZANNA GUZMÁN, an Emmy Award-winning artist from Los Angeles, portrays Abuela Claudia, the woman who raised Usnavi and is the matriarch of the community. Guzmán is a mezzo-soprano, tv/radio host and principal soloist with orchestras and opera houses around the world. She is fresh from playing Mother Abbess in McCoy/Rigby's The Sound of Music. Guzmán is host of the long-running KCET weekly TV series "Open Call," a 2022-23 L.A. Opera Legacy Ambassador and recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Nederlander Organization for service to Arts and Community. Jalon Matthews (Benny), also from L.A., holds an MFA from UC Irvine and a BA from Pepperdine. His regional credits include The Lehman Trilogy (Center Theatre Group), and work with Utah Shakespeare Festival and Musical Theatre West. Ensemble member and featured dancer MALACHI DURANT(Cirque du Soleil and the soon-to-be-released streaming film "1660 Vine") is likewise based in L.A.

Current Orlando residents Jovany Ramirez, whose many credits include Sacramento Music Circus and Stages St. Louis, and JOSE Carlos Rivera (Sonny in McCoy-Rigby's IN THE HEIGHTS) perform as ensemble members.

XIMENA VALENTINA ALVEAR of Oxnard, and RAEGAN DELGADO and DREAMER WILSON of Ventura make their professional debuts with In the Heights. Alvear graduated from Pacifica High School and Wilson from Rio Mesa. Both attended Ventura College. A 17-year resident of Ventura, Delgado holds a dual B.A. from UC, San Diego and an M.A. from Pepperdine.

Brent Crayon is Musical Director and Valeria Cossu serves as Associate Director for the production. The design team includes Christopher Scott Murillo (Set Designer), Mike Billings (Lighting and Projection Designer), DANNY FIANDACA (Sound Designer), Kevin Williams (Prop Designer) and ABRA FLORES (Costume Designer). The stage management team consists of KOREY SANDERS (PSM) and JULIA DONLON (an Oxnard native in her first Equity Associate Stage Manager position).

Performance Schedule, Times and Prices

IN THE HEIGHTS previews Wednesday, October 26 at 7 p.m., Thursday, October 27 at 7 p.m. and Friday, October 28 at 8 p.m. Opening night is Saturday, October 29 at 7:00 p.m. and includes the show, and complimentary margaritas, mojitos, or non-alcoholic beverages.

Performances continue through November 13 - Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m., Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Additional performances with best availability have been added on Sunday evening October 30 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, November 13 at 7 p.m. (the final performance). Ticket prices range from $30 to $79.50. Student, senior and military discounts are available.

More about Rubicon Theatre Company

Rubicon Theatre Company has been described as, "the rising star of the Southern California cultural constellation." A not-for-profit professional regional theatre that has reached more than 450,000 attendees, Rubicon serves area residents and visitors with innovative productions of classic and contemporary plays, as well as a wide array of educational programs and events. Acclaimed by critics and industry professionals, the company has received the L.A. Drama Critics Margaret Harford Special Award for "Sustained Excellence," two Drama Desk Awards, and more than 20 Ovation Awards from the former L.A. Stage Alliance.

PHOTO CREDIT: Loren Haar




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