Pandemic Summer: “The Heights”

I saw the musical The Heights last week. I enjoyed it. I think people that enjoy musicals will enjoy it but it’s not the greatest musical ever. Hamilton was better and I can name five musicals off the top of my head that are better than The Heights. It’s not great. It’s OK yet entertaining.

The Heights takes place in a working class, Latin, immigrant community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. The film focuses the hopes for the future and struggles of the characters. The actors are nice looking, there are movie romances that follow the arc many movie romances do, there are a few laughs and dancing in the streets. The film also addresses modern concerns such as gentrification and The Dreamers.

There was some controversy about the film. Many thought the cast was whitewashed and did not accurately reflect Washington Heights New York. When I saw the commercial for The Heights I questioned the casting too. I’ve never been to Washington Heights but I would guess there are a lot more visibly Black people in that community than what is portrayed in this film based on what I’ve seen of NYC. The film itself is more diverse than the commercials promoting it.

Here is a clip from my favorite part of the movie. The woman that describes herself as Chile Dominican Rican performs my favorite minute of the movie. She’s a hoot.

The movie has a Hollywood happy ending and is very pro American and patriotic from an immigrant’s perspective. It’s lighthearted if you approach it with a light heart. If you enjoy musicals I suggest you give it a try. It not in my top five musicals but The Heights was very popular on Broadway and it made Lin Manuel Miranda famous so it may become one of your favorites.