There’s a new trailer out for In the Heights, a musical-turned-movie from creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and director Jon Chu.
The film was supposed to be released last summer, but like so many good things, it was put off because of the pandemic.
Now, it’s back, and I find myself full of anticipation. I’m literally staring at my planner. Eighty-one days.
I saw the musical a few years ago in Houston with two friends, one Puerto Rican and another Ecuadoran. I’m from a Cuban family, so we had some bases covered.
The show was fantastic. Not just the music and the story, but the shared experience. There, playing out on the stage, and there, in the audience, as the three of us laughed and cried and remembered, each lost in our own immigrant story.
I know I’m looking forward to this movie in an outsize way because it is so rare to see art imitating my life.
Growing up, we loved Desi, and also Lucy, but Desi Arnaz looked — and sounded — like my Papi and my uncles. And there was ¿Qué Pasa, USA? The program, produced by the PBS station in Miami, debuted in 1977 and focused on a Cuban family. We were the Peñas, with the abuela living at home, the laughter, the tears, the Spanglish.
(A nod here to the too-short-lived One Day at a Time. Still haven’t forgiven you, Netflix.)
It’s empowering to see your experiences validated through a TV show or a movie.
It’s refreshing not to see your culture portrayed only through stereotypes.
“I didn’t see our stories being told, so I wrote what was missing,” Miranda once said in an interview with NBC News.
In the Heights is an homage to a New York neighborhood, Washington Heights, and the Latino immigrants who live there.
So many of the characters — and the challenges they face — are familiar.
They call to mind parents and grandparents, out of place in the United States, but struggling to make it work. And you feel the weight you’ve carried, every day of your life, to make sure that their sacrifices weren’t for nothing.
It’s also joyful to hear the actors move from English to Spanish and marry the two. To see the love and the humor, the gossip and the prayers.
I’ve circled June 11 on my calendar.
It won’t be long now.