The Manhattan Times spoke to Lin-Manuel Miranda and Luis Miranda, who serves as NoMAA Chairman of the Board of Directors, about the Uptown Arts Stroll, filming In the Heights uptown, and how the SATs and Usnavi intersect for the composer.
Interview conducted by Led Black, The Uptown Collective.
The Stroll this year will coincide with the filming of In the Heights uptown. What does that feel like?
Lin: I can just say that it’s an honor. I can’t believe that we are going to be filming In the Heights next week. To be honored here at Art Stroll hopefully for all of the energy we are going to bring to Washington Heights. We all posted over the weekend that we are looking for extras from Washington Heights to be in the movie. To be able to represent the neighbor with people from within in the neighborhood is such a dream come true for me.
Luis: In 2006, the Art Stroll was 6 years old. In the Heights was at the Richard Rodgers Theatre and we asked permission from the producers to give the Uptown Art Stroll guides for two weeks to the people waiting to go in to the theater. Because it was a way of letting them know that there was a real neighborhood that is called Washington Heights.
Lin, there are going to be a lot of Usnavis uptown. Any advice?
Lin: There are two really exciting takes coming up. There is Anthony Ramos who played my son Phillip in Hamilton and who is now playing Usnavi in the movie and then there is the student in George Washington High School. That is really exciting for me because that’s the hometown school and where I took my SATs. I’m really excited to see that production and see what those young students have been practicing.
What do you think has changed the most uptown since you wrote the musical?
Lin: I think everything that was written inside that musical is more relevant now then it’s ever been before. The issue of gentrification, of immigration, of what do we carry on as our legacy when our parents moved here from somewhere else. I think all those issues are issues that this neighborhood can relate to. And I think those issues have grown more prevalent. I remember the reviews of the musical would say “Well, are these issues very pressing?” You can’t look at a newspaper without seeing immigration and gentrification at the forefront. In a lot of ways I think the times have caught up to the show. I just think it’s more relevant now than it was in 2008.
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