Racially Offensive Review of In The Heights Sparks Backlash

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

It has been an interesting week, to say the least, for the majestic Tony Award-winning musical In The Heights. First off, Universal announced that it was no longer interested in putting out the movie version of the musical. Undaunted, Lin-Manuel Miranda will continue to pursue other options to make the movie a reality. In other news, just as In The Heights was gearing up to make its Nashville, Tennessee debut at the Performing Arts Center; the musical was the target of a racially offensive review. The original review, which appeared on the Nashville Scene, has since been taken down with the excuse that it was a first draft that was accidentally posted online. First draft or not, the review was distasteful and odious to say the least. See below for the entire review that I was able to track down and marvel at its magnificent narrow-mindedness.

What will the American musical do for thematic material when the melting pot has completely turned to ethnic mush and no group is really underprivileged? We might be there already, in fact, which makes pondering sitting through this Broadway “blockbuster” a comme ci, comme ça proposition. In the Heights won four 2008 Tony Awards, but it’s getting harder and harder to know if that’s a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval or a rubber stamp that has to be affixed dutifully to some show or another every year. Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s story — book by Quiara Alegría Hudes — tells of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, “where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music.” In other words, an excuse to employ dynamic youthful minority performers who dance and sing and holler to a lot of salsa music and groove on lyrics about Latin loving and partying. Oh yeah, and also about fulfilling their hopes and dreams in the Promised Land of America (specifically, New York City, where the L train plays a lullaby). This fest of semi-huddled masses yearning to be free encompasses Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Cubans, etc., making it an easy leap to presume their forebears were the inspiration for half the cast of the original production of West Side Story. All that exuberance is great — yet the horns alone might give you a headache. But if you like your ingénues brown and leggy and your music “hot, hot, hot,” this is the show for you.”

On a lighter note, check out the big homie, Lin-Manuel Miranda, rocking out with his boy Jon Rua.


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