As I switched my laptop over from Airplay to Google Drive to write this review, I couldn’t help but feel a whirlwind of emotions. I had been anticipating the release of this film for the longest time. In The Heights is not only my favorite musical–it helped get me to where I am today. Literally. If it weren’t for me singing “Everything I Know” at my NYU Tisch college audition 8 years ago, I would probably have not been admitted to the school. Like Nina, I am a first-generation college graduate. I was able to attend NYU with the help of scholarships, financial aid, and my parent’s unending support. I remember the day my father sold his prized 72’ Corvette to help pay for my college tuition. I remember the feeling of working hard every day to make them proud and to follow my dream. My sueñito. Evidently, you can tell that I have a very deep attachment to this musical, which is what made me so excited and nervous to watch the film.
I’ve been a fan of the musical since its Broadway debut in 2008, so I did have my reservations about a few of my favorite songs being cut from the film. I understand that, with film, the focus always has to be shifted. It can’t always tell the whole story because, well, there just ain’t enough time. It was evident that the film was revolving more around Usnavi and his story, which is why I presume they cut more of Nina, Benny, and Kevin’s storylines. (I did appreciate the nuanced parts of “Sunrise” included in a few of the later moments, it being my favorite song and all). If I wasn’t such an “Original Broadway Soundtrack” person then I definitely wouldn’t feel short-changed. The changes that were made to fit what the new version of the story needed (particularly when it came to Abuela Claudia and Usnavi) were well executed.