Way back when, I was a very poor new college grad, working for a Broadway management office, and living just off of 190th Street. Despite the long train ride, it was one of the very best experiences of my life to live in that neighborhood. I was the only non-Dominican on my block and I was enchanted by their culture. Maybe even a little jealous of them. At night in my current apartment, I sometimes think back to 190th Street (Wadsworth Terrace, actually) and remember the endless game of dominoes played on that street corner "at the top of the world". Sometimes, I miss it.
Tonight I went to see In the Heights with my friend, Monika. Brilliant, funny, and poignant, it reminded me of all the things I love about live theatre. The music, acting, dancing, writing, and singing made it one of the very best all-around shows I've ever seen. It's a beautiful tribute to an amazing neighborhood and Latin culture. It really is a love letter to New York City. It made me glad and grateful that New York City is my home.
And what I love most about the show is that it was one man's dream to write a show about his neighborhood and his heritage. It doesn't have any complicated plot lines, there's nothing for the audience to "figure out". It's just a beautiful, simple story about life on a block in New York. You meet the colorful personalities, see some of their heartache, some of their joys, and all of their dreams. It's as if for a minute I was back on that block, looking out from my apartment window and watching the comings and goings of average, everyday people. It made me think that maybe there is a story in all of us that is worth telling, and our only job is to tell is honestly, with heart. I'm grateful to Lin-Manuel Miranda for sharing his story with us.