New York City in the summertime isn’t for everyone. It’s easy to love an afternoon in Central Park, a ride on the Cyclone, or a splurge at a Mister Softee truck (swirled cone with a cherry dip, please!), but finding joy amid the sweltering temperatures and teeming crowds is no small feat.
To see a New York summer onscreen in In the Heights (opening in theaters and on HBO Max on June 10), however, you’d never know it wasn’t paradise. In director Jon M. Chu’s adaptation of the Tony-winning musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes (which tells the story of Usnavi, a Washington Heights bodega owner, and the friends and family who surround him, and features a cast that includes Anthony Ramos, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Corey Hawkins, and Jimmy Smits), the season in Upper Manhattan is a riot of singing, dancing, young love, big dreams, and one very eventful blackout.
“Washington Heights really comes into its own in the summer,” Miranda says. “The streets are alive with neighbors, and there is music pouring out of every car and corner store. It seems like the most natural setting for a musical possible. In the Heights is a love letter to this community.”
It’s also timed perfectly for a world that is reopening. “When we shot the movie, I had no idea what a blackout was like,” Chu says. “And then the pandemic happened, and our whole world experienced that powerlessness. How do we get out of that? Community and family are always timely to me, and so are music, celebration, and joy.”
So while the warmest months of 2021 may not be exactly like summers past, one beloved tradition is certain: There’s a blockbuster coming, and it promises to be hot.
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