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May 11 - June 9, 2024 , Allen Theatre

In The Heights

Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Book by Quiera Alegría Hudes
Directed by James Vásquez

Run time: TBD
Advisory: Mild profanity; mild sexual innuendo; a single scene of a drunken brawl; a single scene of looting and violence in the streets. Recommended for ages 14+

Presented by

Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc.

The unbearable July heat has the denizens of NYC’s Washington Heights neighborhood in the streets shouting, “Que calor!” Several established businesses have closed. Housing costs – and racial tensions – are on the rise. And the once vibrant, now dwindling community must rally together to preserve their culture and their way of life. Lin Manuel-Miranda’s music-filled love letter to the community of his youth, In The Heights, tells the story of the corner bodega where the coffee is hot, light, and sweet, the apartment windows that are always open, and the cool breeze that carries the percussive rhythm of the bustling city and three generations of dreams. And for this community on the brink of change, it tells a story of hope, heritage, and healing love.

inside-cph

Welcome to Inside CPH for In the Heights. Click the icons and verbs below for some ideas on how you can engage more deeply with the themes and ideas of the play beyond the performance.

Special THANKS to our Productions Partners for our 2023-24 Season!

Our partners include:

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If you won the lottery and got your $96,000, what would you do with it?

Can you think of a time in your life when you were torn between honoring your past / traditions and cultures / the wishes of your family and pursuing or following some of your own dreams for the future? What was the conflict? How did you resolve it? What did you gain or lose in the process?

Think about where you live. Do you have a sense of neighborhood or community pride? Who are the people who make up the place you call “home?” What are some of the rituals or traditions? Is there a sort of insider knowledge or vocabulary that you all share? How do you respond to visitors, guests, or outsiders? If this isn’t a reality where you live, what might you do to begin to build that sense of neighborliness?

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The Evolution of a Cultural Epicenter

The story of how Washington Heights came to be a vibrant, thriving community is a fascinating one. And it has several revealing similarities to and differences from Cleveland’s immigration history.

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Washington Heights Immigration History

Washington Heights spans roughly from W155th street of Manhattan northward to Dyckman Street, and stretches from the Hudson River to the Harlem River- less than two square miles now home to just over 2,000 diverse New Yorkers.

1775 - Eponymously dubbed for the fort established by George Washington during the Revolutionary War, the site now hosts a playground for families, nestled on the raised rocky pinnacle that stands as the highest natural elevation point on Manhattan. . George Washington’s headquarters resided down the hill on the eastern bluff of the island at the Morris-Jumel Mansion (on what is today 160th) for just a single month before encroaching British forces seized the real estate. Mary Morris, the house’s original matriarch was one of three women accused of treason in NY, and as such had the home confiscated and sold to cover war debts. The property was occupied by farmers and would soon be owned by NY socialite Eliza Jumel who has an absolutely FASCINATING history (check her out). Will this be a link to something?

Most of uptown Manhattan. Which proved to have a uniquely tenable soil and topography for agriculture, remained rural farmland until the subway to the area was built in 1900. Lower Manhattan’s agricultural efforts proved fairly impossible as it was prone to flooding and incompatible soil and season temperaments.

1889 - Washington Heights became the very first home of NYC professional baseball, with the NY Giants playing at the Polo Grounds at 155th on the east side of the neighborhood until 1957. The NY Mets took a residency at the stadium in 1962-1963. American League Baseball got its start just ten blocks up and a few avenues to the west at what was Hilltop Stadium (what is now Columbia Medical Center) with their debut team, the NY Highlanders (now known as the Yankees).

1900-1950s - The A line of the subway was built (1906) to 157th and with it came a construction boom and huge influx of Irish, Greek, and Jewish communities that had immigrated to America, fleeing economic hardships and political persecution. There was such an influx of German-Jewish immigrants that the northern Heights was referred to as “Frankfurt on the Hudson.” Over these five decades, the groups were able to establish a foothold in the NYC economy and identity.

1940s-1980s - Dovetailing into the 40s through the 60s, having gained social, financial, and political traction within NYC, these groups started moving north, south, and east. In the gradual exodus, New York saw a major surge of immigrants coming from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, and just a short time after, from the Dominican Republic. While each culture made a definite and distinct impact on the neighborhood, the Dominican culture reached a greater prominence within the Washington Heights neighborhood. This was primarily due to three major factors:

  • 1. From 1916-1924, there was an American military occupation of the Dominican Republic. There’s a lot of fascinating history to piece through there, but in a very broad way, it laid the groundwork for a degree of cultural exposure.

  • 2. From 1931-1961, a militia-empowered dictator, Rafael Trujillo, ruled over the Dominican Republic. In 1961, the Trujillo regime had come to an end, and with it, the emigration ban placed on Dominicans. Politically, in the void left by the brutal dictatorship, there was great difficulty in settling a new government structure and how the country as a whole could rebuild itself. By 1965 there arose a civil war and another US occupation. For these reasons especially, the exodus to America was very strong, aided by a diverse city with an international hub for flights.

  • 3. By 1966, the Fourth Republic was established under a Reformist party leader. This was another fascinating few decades of socio-political development, but that said, in an overly broad way, the Dominican Republic stabilized significantly in a relatively short period of time. Because of this, there was and remains the capacity for families and individuals to have one foot in NYC and one foot in DR. The level of financial remittance from Dominican communities in the U.S. back and forth with families and communities in the Dominican Republic is substantial - evidence that the bonds between DR and NY are very strong financially and culturally.

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Cleveland Immigration History

In 1914-1915, many southern African Americans migrated northward where there were more enterprising factory jobs during WWI in the resource rich area near Lake Erie.

Immigration restriction legislation kept immigration suppressed in the Midwest. Displaced immigrant communities who came to settle in America migrated to larger metropolis hubs like NYC and Chicago.

1948 witnessed the repeal of the National Origins Act and a loosening of a number of immigration restrictions in the Midwest. It’s at this point in Cleveland’s history that opportunities for communities from the Indian Diaspora, China, and Korea were able to make a home. During the 50s and 60s, social and political upheaval across Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and the Middle East created a surge of diverse immigrant communities that came to Cleveland.

Throughout the 50s and 60s, a huge population of Puerto Rican immigrants came to Cleveland through a range of recruitment efforts for the wide variety of work opportunities that were booming in the region. Originally Puerto Ricans made a home on the east side of Cleveland, but, like NYC, after establishing themselves, moved closer to where the jobs and financial resources of the city existed: to the Near-West and in the Flats districts of Cleveland.

When Castro took power in 1959, there was a swift and significant increase in the number of Cubans who immigrated to Cleveland. By 1980, the Cuban population of Cleveland tripled but then declined substantially over the next ten years as families moved to other neighborhoods a bit further out such as Lorain, Painesville, and Brooklyn.

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PIVOT!

DO NOT miss the cool stuff happening right here in your own backyard.

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The Pivot Center on West 25th Street has something for everyone. In just one building they host LatinUs Theatre - the premier globally Hispanic theater in Cleveland, Ohio. Their productions are in Spanish and they build inclusively large-scale projections of English subtitles into their set design. Seeing their work is a feast for those who love the performing arts.

If media arts are your thing, check out the gallery at the Community Arts Center - a branch of the Cleveland Art Museum - to see incredible larger-than-life sculptures, mammoth puppets, costumes, masks, and other works of art. You can catch some of the wearable pieces on full display at Parade the Circle on Saturday June 8 from 12:00-4:00.

Stroll just across the lobby to grab some artwork for yourself from Future Ink Graphics (FIG) who have all sorts of gorgeous prints and other locally made artwork.

Down the hall you can take in the rotating gallery of paintings and photographs on your way to Inlet Dance Company, a troupe that has been growing for twenty two years now, offering full scale dance productions, special event programming, educational opportunities, and space rental.

And if you’re feeling worn out from a full day of art exploration, no sweat; inside FIG’s commercial space is Dahila Coffee complete with sweet treats and caffeinated goodness.

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When You're Home share

One of the many compelling story elements of this play is its encapsulation of what it means to be home. If you’ve ever moved away or had to leave home for work or school, you probably understand Nina’s plight: the bittersweetness of nostalgia, the heartbreak of missing special spots and your family (whether blood or chosen), and the joy of reunions.

Tell us a bit about your favorite spots and memories around Cleveland, or the surprisingly little things you’ve missed when you’ve taken time away from home. Post on social media and tag us at #IntheHeightsCPH or write to us at insidecph@clevelandplayhouse.com.

I’ve never been a gardener nor a super outdoors-y person, but something that always reminds me of home is the smell of hydrangeas. Growing up, hydrangeas grew in our backyard intermixed with some pine trees. On a breezy summer day, the smell would perfume my folks’ house. When I moved to NYC after college, anytime I would catch the smallest whiff of a hydrangea walking through a park or by the rare botanical-heavy window-sill garden, I would be immediately transported to the kitchen window of my parents’ home on a summer day taking in its simple sweet freshness.

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IF WE COULD, WE WOULD

Of course, we’re referring to hosting a genuine piragua stand in our lobby after its tempting product placement in In the Heights.

Piragua is a staple sweet treat of Puerto Rican culture: shaved ice, with a sweet syrup poured over it, with a traditional conical or canoe shape jutting upwards from the lip of the cup it’s served in (as opposed to the rounded shape of the Americanized commercial snow cone).

Fun Fact: Piragua translates to “canoe.” Etymologically it’s a combination of two Spanish words, piramide (pyramid) and agua (water), and was originally used to describe the pyramid-shaped boats.

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Luckily this sweet treat can be enjoyed from your own home with a little preparation.

When making your own piragua, it’s so important to work with shaved ice instead of blended crushed ice. Texturally it’s a world of a difference AND it hugely impacts how the syrup coats the ice and is enjoyed during consumption. Don’t skimp on the shaved part. There’s a wide variety of stand-alone electrical ice shavers and Kitchen aid-like attachments if you have such equipment. Simpler and more affordable is an actual handheld steel ice shaver. Their online retail cost lands somewhere around $12-$30. experience

Secondly - freeze yourself some pucks or blocks of ice. Repurposing old tupperware or sanitized desktop office drawers can be perfect. Puck molds for electric shavers or shaving attachments can also be found online.

Either place the pucks into your electric shaver or scrape your steel shaver across the block of ice and put the shavings into a cup - packing it in tightly to hold its shape when you pour the syrup. You want to pack the cup full and then stack on one more packing portion to the top of your treat.

Now for the syrup!

Make your own fruity syrups by combining macerated fruits, fruit nectars, sugar, and a bit of water and bringing it all to a simmering boil. Strain the mixture through a sieve and chill the contents so that it is ready to pour over your cool treat. The typical ratio for a plain simple syrup (sugar water) is 1:1 sugar to water. Depending on the level of liquid garnered from the fruit and your preferred level of sweetness, alter that ratio accordingly.

A signature of piragua syrups is sweet cream or crema. To make the piragua crema syrup add evaporated milk, condensed milk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract together, whisking until it is homogeneously mixed. Allow the mixture to chill, then pour over your shaved ice.

Explore making your own syrups and see if you can come up with any home-spun favorites.

Sponsors

Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc.
Eight Scenic Designs in Two Minutes

Eight Scenic Designs in Two Minutes

Our friend Robert Mark Morgan, Scenic Designer (Into the Breeches!, Diary of Anne Frank, The Whipping Man) created a fun video showing all of the uniq...

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