PCC Students Perform a Tony Award Winning Musical!

By Quinn Everts|March 1, 2017News, Sylvania, Top Stories|

In 2016, the theater world was taken by storm. ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’ became one of the most popular and acclaimed musicals of all time, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man behind it all, became a superstar. Fans from all around the world flocked to see Miranda’s production about one of this country’s founding fathers. It wasn’t just theater aficionados who were enthralled by this musical though, as Miranda managed to reach audiences from all different walks of life. It may be the most known work of the playwright’s career, but it is not the first time he has crafted a work of art that captivated the hearts and minds of those lucky enough to see it.

‘In The Heights’ was Miranda’s Broadway debut, and really put Miranda on the map as a magnificent director and songwriter.  A winner of “Best Musical Show Album” at the Grammy’s, and four Tony awards, “In The Heights” is what jump started Lin-Manuel Miranda’s career, and starting very soon, it will be coming to Portland Community College Sylvania Campus. The PCC theater program will be performing Miranda’s musical from the 10th to the 19th of March.

Following the Hispanic community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, “In The Heights” chronicles the busy lives, multiple characters, the tribulations they go through, and how things change once a member of the community wins almost 100 thousand dollars off of a lottery ticket. In an interview with PCC’s own James Hill, Director and Music Instructor Julianne Johnson-Wisse said this show is, “A remarkable tale of families and neighbors with hopes and dreams, successes and failures, wrapped in the tapestry of the American Dream.”

Ellie Lauthner, a second year Musical Theater major at PCC, expressed her excitement for the show to start, calling it “a really fun, high-energy show. I love this musical a lot. Everyone’s working really hard, and it feels a little hectic right now, but that’s normal before opening night. As a cast, you can really feel when a show is going to turn out well, and we all know that this one is going to be great.”

The show features a number of large, complicated songs, and the unique musical style this play has was tough to adapt to, according to Lauthner. “The music in the show is stunning, and very different from a lot of Broadway shows. There’s a lot of hip-hop and salsa-inspired sounds, and our director and choreographer have been great in helping us adjust to a sound and feel that a lot of us are not used to.”  Recently, the cast found out that they will be performing on the same set that the touring Broadway cast used. “It looks amazing.” Lauthner said.

PCC Theatre started out the 2016-17 production year with ‘Almost, Maine’, a play focusing on love (and loss) in a small town. ‘Heights’ is virtually the polar opposite of that, Lauthner explained. “The two shows we’ve done this year are wildly different in a bunch of ways, but mostly in the sheer size. ‘In The Heights’ is big, bold and complicated.”

The excitement for this production is obvious, from the cast to the staff, who’s working on making sure everything is just right for the 10th. Gene Flores, Dean of the Visual and Performing Arts and Design Division at PCC, is looking forward to the theatrical talent at PCC to be on display. He said to Hill, “I am so excited to offer the community the chance to see the talented students, faculty and staff who will be part of “In the Heights.” He emphasized that with all the crazy things happening in and around our country right now, this performance may be coming at a perfect time. “This is a wonderful learning opportunity for everyone who is a part of the production, and the musical’s themes are timely for the audience, as well.”

Some of the talents that Flores described include Curtis Gonzales, who will be playing the role of Usnavi, one of the main characters in the production. Alongside him will be Brice Schmietenknop as Vanessa, Jade Tate as Nina Rosario, Nate Pimentel as Sonny, and a large collection of many more talented actors and actresses.

The team of students, staff, and community members have been working countless hours over the last few months in order to be ready to perform for the public. The excitement is infectious, and it’s obvious that everybody involved in this production is more than ready to get this show started.

“In The Heights” will be playing at 7 PM in the Performing Arts Center at the Sylvania Campus of PCC, on Friday, March 10th, Saturday, March 11th, and also the 15, 17, and 18th. There are two matinee performances, the first at 11 AM on Thursday, the 16th and the final performance will be at 2 PM on Sunday, March 19th.

Tickets to the show are $15 for general admission, and $10 for students of PCC. They can be purchased online or at a PCC bookstore.

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