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North Carolina Theatre Conservatory Students Tackle 2008 Tony® Winner “In the Heights” on Aug. 8-11


The North Carolina Theatre Conservatory Master Summer Theatre Arts School will present a youth-theater production of the Tony Award®-winning 2007 Off-Broadway and 2008 Broadway musical In the Heights, directed and choreographed by dance department head Tito Hernandez, on Aug. 8-11 3043 Barrow Dr. in north Raleigh, NC. Originally conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show features music and lyrics Miranda and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes.

In the Heights opened on Broadway on March 9, 2008 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, where it ran for 1,184 performances before closing on Jan. 9, 2011. The show won four 2008 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score Written for the Theatre, and was nominated for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

“I first saw the the on Broadway and was fascinated and so moved by the production that I returned to [New York City] and found myself seeing it an additional two times,” recalls Tito Hernandez. “I never worked on the show before, but my friend Andy Blankenbuehler[, who choreographed In the Heights and won the Tony for his efforts], was able to teach our ‘company’ member students a workshop in NYC.”

Hernandez adds, “I like the fact that the simple plot ‘hits home’ and is relatable to all of us on one level or another. I also enjoy depicting a particular culture that most of us are not familiar with and sharing it. Also, being from that culture (Cuban-first generation) and actually being born in Washington Heights was somewhat of a coming home to me….

“The show is basically about a NYC neighborhood ‘Washington Heights,’ which is primarily a melting pot for all Spanish cultures,” Hernandez explains. “[In the Heights] unveils the trials and tribulations of everyday life and the struggle to become better and find the hope in ordinary situations. It’s about culture, community, human nature and, ultimately, patience and faith.In the Heights

In addition to director and choreographer Tito Hernandez, the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory Master Summer Theatre Arts School’s creative team for In the Heights includes producer Ray Walker, assistant director Sherry Lee Allen, musical director Michael Santangelo, technical director Bill Yates, set designer Chris Bernier, lighting designer Jenni Becker, costume designer Adrienne McKenzie, properties manager Aline Johnson, sound designer Brian Hunt, and stage manager Liz Ray.

Hernandez says, “The set depicts an actual street in Washington Heights in NYC. Complete with a local bodega (convenience store), beauty salon, limo car service, fire escape, and balconies.”

He adds, “The lighting is subtle or severe and bold when needed, but never distracting. It will only help advance the plot and story line, while making sure the audience knows where to look at for the action.

“The costumes are modern day ‘hip’ street and ‘nite club’ type wear,” says Tito Hernandez. “They show the diverse styles and choices today’s people are wearing….

“As always,” Hernandez says, “wanting more time to set a production is on the wish list. In addition, working with a large cast on a small set poses an obvious challenge.

“In regards to working with young actors, I enjoy it very much,” says director and choreographer Tito Hernandez. “Most of them are like sponges listening to every direction while trying to improve themselves in order to progress the story line and their character. And once in a safe learning environment, they are more apt to make bolder choices and take bigger risks.”

SECOND OPINION: Aug. 7th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods:

The North Carolina Theatre Conservatory Master Summer Theatre Arts School presents IN THE HEIGHTS at 8 p.m. Aug. 8 and 9, 2 and 8 p.m. Aug. 10, and 2 and 7 p.m. Aug. 11 at 3043 Barrow Dr., Raleigh, North Carolina 27616.


BOX OFFICE: 919-855-9960.







In the Heights (2007 Off-Broadway and 2008 Broadway musical): (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization) and (Wikipedia).

Study Guide: (Camp Broadway LLC).

Lin-Manuel Miranda (music and lyrics): (official website) and (Wikipedia).

Quiara Alegría Hudes (book): (official website) and (Wikipedia).

The Documentary (In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams): (Public Broadcasting System).

Tito Hernandez (director and choreographer): (his Facebook page).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Review, a FREE weekly e-mail arts newsletter. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Review.

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