Alicia Vitarelli chats with star-studded cast of 'In The Heights'

Alicia Vitarelli Image
Thursday, June 10, 2021
'In the Heights' is in theaters and now streaming
Meet the West Philadelphia woman who not only wrote the Broadway show with Miranda, but came back to write the screenplay for the big screen.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In theaters and now streaming is 'In The Heights,' the award-winning Broadway musical that's hitting the big screen.

I had a chance to chat with the star-studded cast as they make Lin-Manuel Miranda's dream sing, dance, and burst with Latino pride and culture.

"It just gave me this hope like these people look like me they sound like me, they feel familiar," said Anthony Ramos.

He plays Usnavi, a bodega owner in Washington Heights who dreams of returning to his native Dominican Republic.

Lin Manuel Miranda originated the role on stage, but for the film, he cast Ramos, saying this part fits him like a well-tailored tux.

"It's an honor," Ramos said. "He wrote the role for himself. For him to say, that means a lot."

But don't worry, Miranda gave himself a small part.

Alicia Vitarelli interviews the cast of "In the Heights"

"It's a love letter to the neighborhood," Miranda said. "It's such a reminder of what community can be."

Miranda also brought back broadway cast member Olga Merediz, who originated the role of Abuela Claudia.

"From the workshops, the readings off-Broadway, on Broadway and now the cinema, it's a dream come true," Merediz said. "It's a miracle almost."

Newcomers include Melissa Barrera, who plays Usnavi's love interest, Vanessa.

"For all of us, it was a dream come true to be a part of this. It meant so much," Barrera said. "We knew the responsibility that we had in our hands."

There were firsts for many in the cast.

Singer Leslie Grace is making her acting debut.

"I gained a whole new family and extended family," Grace said. "It changed my life."

Actor Jimmy Smits got to check something off his bucket list - singing.

"I got to blow a couple of notes," he said.

Watch Action News' full interviews with the cast and creative team right now on our family of streaming apps like Apple TV and Roku.