“In The Heights,” written by Wes alum Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, was first performed in Wesleyan‘s own ’92 Theater in 1999:
I wrote the first incarnation of In the Heights my sophomore year at Wesleyan University. In the winter of 1999, I applied to put up a new show in the student-run ’92 Theater. At the time, I had one song and a title: In the Heights. I was given the theater for the weekend of April 20-22—now all I had to do was write a show. I barely slept, I barely ate; I just wrote. I put in all the things I’d always wanted to see onstage: propulsive freestyle rap scenes outside of bodegas, salsa numbers that also revealed character and story. I tried to write the kind of show I’d want to be in.
Two remarkable things happened. One, we broke box-office records for the ’92 Theater that year—it was insanity. Two, I was approached by John Buffalo Mailer (son of Norman), a senior at the time. He loved the show and said, “My friends and I are starting a production company when we graduate, and we want to help you bring it to New York.” I said, “That sounds awesome,” went to the cast party and promptly forgot about his offer.
Nowadays, the show is being performed on Broadway. Today Tony nominations were announced, and “In The Heights” is leading the pack with 13 nominations:
“In the Heights,” an original musical written by a university student about life in a working-class New York neighborhood, led the nominations for Broadway’s top theater honors, the Tony Awards, on Tuesday.
Among the 13 nominations for “In The Heights” were best musical, best original score, best performance by a featured actor in a musical for Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also wrote the musical, and best direction of a musical for Thomas Kail.
Miranda wrote the musical, set in Manhattan’s largely Hispanic Washington Heights neighborhood, while in his second year at Wesleyan University and after graduating he and Kail reworked it for a larger audience. It first played in Connecticut before moving to an off-Broadway theater and then making its Broadway debut on March 9 this year.
We’re proud of you, Lin-Manuel!
There will be a special benefit performance of “In The Heights” to raise money for Wes financial aid on September 5 – check it out.
P.S. Apparently also the Broadway production is directed by Tommy Kail ’99, and arranged and orchestrated by Bill Sherman ’02.
Edit: An anonymous commenter points out some way interesting/impressive additional facts:
1) in the heights was nominated for EVERY POSSIBLE TONY AWARD except for 1 (lead actress). to put that in perspective, RENT was nominated for 10, and Avenue Q was nominated for 6.
2) lin is nominated for 2 tony’s, music and acting. that’s unheard of.
3) all 3 wesleyan grads are up for awards, lin, tommy, and bill.