The Tony award-winning musical follows Washington Heights bodega owner Usnavi as he gets ready to close his store and retire to the Dominican Republic. Told in a series of flashbacks, In the Heights tells of “a block that was disappearing,” said star Anthony Ramos (who plays Usnavi) in the trailer.
The trailer opens with Usnavi telling the story of Washington Heights to a group of children in the Dominican Republic. Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu is directing the film, and with a cast filled with as many notable actors as this one, fans have some high hopes.
This is the first glimpse we get at the cast in their parts. The cast is filled with some star-studded names, like Stephanie Beatriz and Lin-Manuel himself, but for some, like Melissa Barrera, this is their first big-screen production.
Melissa stars as love interest Vanessa.
In the role adjacent to Anthony's main character Usnavi, Melissa is cast as Vanessa, who works at the nearby salon and who Usnavi pines after. She's one of the three central characters whose storylines are followed throughout the movie. Alongside Melissa, Leslie Grace has been cast as Nina, a college student returning home for the summer.
In the Heights is Melissa Barrera's first big movie role.
Melissa is well-known in the Latin telenovela world, landing starring roles in a couple of shows produced by TV Azteca, including Siempre tuya Acapulco and Tantor amor. Her television debut came in 2011, when she showcased her singing and dancing talents on the Mexican reality show La Academia.
This musical was Lin-Manuel's first Broadway musical, which he worked with John Buffalo Mailer and director Thomas Kail to adapt from the book In the Heights (written by Quiara Alegría Hudes). Lin-Manuel starred in the original Broadway production as Usnavi.
The movie adaption was originally picked up by the Weinstein Company, but the rights were later put up for auction after the company went under after Harvey Weinstein's allegations of sexual misconduct.
In the Heights has won four Tony Awards.
In the Heights, the musical made its Broadway debut back in 2008, three years after its first opening run in Waterford, CT. The musical then went on to be nominated for 13 Tony Awards, and won in four different categories, taking home Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography, and Best Orchestrations. The show also won a Grammy in 2008 for Best Musical Show Album and was a finalist for a Pulitzer prize in 2009.
Melissa started her musical career while she was attending the American School Foundation of Monterrey, starring in the school's productions of shows like Grease, Footloose, and Voices, before continuing her education at New York University. Before In the Heights, she was also cast in the movie L for Leisure in 2010 while she was still in college.