Warner Bros. has released the first eight minutes of its upcoming big-screen musical, In The Heights. Featuring the title track by creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, the opening number introduces Anthony Ramos as Usnavi de la Vega, a Dominican-American shopkeep, and his neighborhood, Washington Heights.
The clip also introduces much of the rest of the cast, including Miranda as Mr. Piragüero, the Piragua guy, Olga Merediz as Abuela, Jimmy Smits as Kevin Rosario, and Daphne Rubin-Vega, Stephanie Beatriz, and Dascha Polanco as Daniela, Carla, and Cuca, the salon ladies. We also meet Gregory Diaz IV as Usnavi’s cousin, Sonny, Corey Hawkins as his friend, Benny, and Melissa Barrera as his love interest, Vanessa.
In a series of tweets Sunday night, director Jon M. Chu offered a series of “fun facts” about the opening number, including that the various locations and characters featured in its montage segments took the entire shooting schedule to gather:
Chu also name-checks some of the other actors featured in those sequences, including Luis Salgado, who was an original cast member who Chu happened to bump into on the subway just in time to make a brief appearance in this opening number. Chu also mentions dancer Luis Rosado and choreographer Christopher Scott, who both worked on Chu’s first feature, Step Up 2 The Streets.
Chu reserves special praise for Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the original Tony-winning musical. Miranda, now renowned for creating Hamilton, first started working on In The Heights in 1999 as a sophomore in college. Hudes later joined as book writer, and adapted her script for the screenplay. Both served as producers on the film.
Chu’s tweets exude enthusiasm for the material, but that enthusiasm is plenty apparent watching the clip. Full of kinetic movement and clever camera flourishes, Chu manages to keep the energy (and bodies) moving, even when we pull in tight to Ramos’ face. It’s a pulse- and fist-pumping statement of purpose, taking full advantage of the possibilities of a film musical.
In The Heights premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on June 10. Check out the video below: