Movie musicals have always been a tried and true genre in the film world, and there have been quite a few major hits over the years. It's a genre with a penchant for awards attention, with movies like Chicago, La La Land, and Les Miserables all able to pick up Oscars. In the world of musical theater, there's currently no name quite as famous as Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the writer/actor is currently developing the film adaptation of his first Broadway hit, In The Heights.
In The Heights broke new ground by bringing hip hop to Broadway, and a movie has been slowly developing for a number of years. But things appear to be moving forward, as Lin-Manuel Miranda and company have begun assembling the movie adaptation's cast. And there's some impressive talent attached.
Anthony Ramos (Usnavi)
Hamilton star Anthony Ramos is playing the lead role of Usnavi in In The Heights, after taking a run as the character in the Kennedy Center Production. Following the wild success of Hamilton, Ramos began getting more film work, and you might recognize his face from certain high profile projects. After starring in Spike Lee's Netflix series She's Gotta Have It and a recurring role in Will & Grace, Ramos co-starred alongside Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born as Ally's best friend Ramon.
Jimmy Smits (Kevin Rosario)
Another big name attached to In the Heights is Jimmy Smits, who has had a long career in film and TV. Smits is known for his roles in Dexter, Star Wars, as well as Sons of Anarchy. Smits is playing Kevin Rosario in the In The Heights movie, the patriarch of the Rosario family. Smits isn't necessarily known for his singing, and it should be interesting to see if he ends up getting belt out Kevin's big number "Inútil".
Daphne Rubin-Vega (Carla)
While not exactly a household name for her work in film, Daphne Rubin-Vega is a name that any self-respecting Broadway fan knows well. Rubin-Vega originated the role of Mimi in RENT on Broadway, and can be heard on the cast recording. She's one of two original cast members didn't appear in the film version, with Rosario Dawson taking on the mantle of Mimi. Aside from her continued work on the stage, Rubin-Vega was seen in NBC's Smash, and the Sex and the City movie. She'll play Carla, owner of the neighborhood salon.
Corey Hawkins (Benny)
Corey Hawkins' star power has been growing over the past few years, due to his work in both television and movies. On the small screen, he had brief stint on The Walking Dead, he lead the ill-fated 24 reboot. And in movies, Hawkins had roles in BlackKklansman and Straight Outta Compton. Hawkins is playing Benny, one of the few non-latin characters in the cast. He's got In the Heights' main love story on his shoulders, and should be belting out a variety of iconic songs.
Dascha Polanco (Cuca)
Dascha Polanco is best known for her leading role as Daya in Netflix's Orange is the New Black. She's also had roles in Joy and American Crime Story, but In The Heights should be a major moment for her career. There's just one question: who is she playing? Polanco was announced to be playing Cuca, but she's not a character in the stage play. Will she work in Carla's salon? We'll just have to wait for more information.
Olga Merediz (Abuela Claudia)
Olga Merediz is another In The Heights cast member who audiences should recognize, but might not be able to figure out where. She's also another Orange is the New Black alum, as Merediz has a recurring character in Lourdes, Gloria Mendoza's Aunt. Merediz will be playing Abuela Claudia, the adoptive grandmother of not only Anthony Ramos' Usnavi, but the entire barrio.
Stephanie Beatriz (Carla)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Stephanie Beatriz is heading back to theaters with In The Heights, and should be lending her speaking and singing voice to the role of Carla. Beatriz has played Rosa Diaz in B99 for a whopping 130 episodes, and clearly has the comedic chops and experience to play Carla. In the stage version of In The Heights, Carla is Daniela's dimwitted best friend who has a passion for neighborhood gossip.
Gregory Diaz (Sonny)
Lin-Manuel Miranda is presumably going to make some changes to the characters and plot of In The Heights, to best adapt the Tony Award winning musical onto the silver screen. One of these changes can be seen with the casting of Gregory Diaz as Sonny. Sonny is Usnavi's younger cousin, although he's usually at least high school aged, and helping to run the convenience store with Usnavi. But he's going to be much younger in the movie version, and it should be interesting to see how Diaz balances Sonny's comedic beats with his penchant or social justice.
Melissa Barrera (Vanessa)
Vanessa is the subject of Usnavi's affection, and should be equal parts ambitious bombshell and caring member of the community. The In The Heights movie has cast Melissa Barrera in the role. Barrera is best known for starring in Starz's LatinX drama Vida, which is set to debut it second season shortly. Vanessa also belts out some crazy high notes, so the actress should probably start warming up now.
Leslie Grace (Nina Rosario)
Nina and Benny have the main love story of In The Heights, so casting for the ingenue was very important. Ultimately Lin-Manuel Miranda and company landed on Leslie Grace to play the college student who returns home for hard lesson. While not a film star, Grace is a recording artist who is also a New York City native. Starring in the In The Heights movie has the potential to be a major moment in Grace's career, and possibly herald in a film career. One thing is clear: she's not going to have any problem singing.
Lin-Manuel Miranda's In The Heights cast is coming together, making the upcoming movie finally feel real. And while Hamilton may be a bigger title at this point, bringing Usnavi and The Barrio to the silver screen will allow casual fans who appreciate his other Broadway musical. In The Heights was no sleeper hit either, as it won the Tony for Best Musical, and was even nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
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Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.