Just how ‘In the Heights’ drawn off its most shifting, ambitious musical number of all of the


Chu: Originally, I wanted it to be like an old Hollywood musical where she may be in a subway at first, but then it leads to a soundstage, like with Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain. ” Very spending modern, with projections around her. Another version had been setting the whole thing inside a subway tunnel, which goes darkish and then becomes this dance space with all these fluorescents lights.

Alice Brooks (cinematographer): We looked at blackbox spaces, architectural spaces, historical New York places that were mostly way downtown. We went everywhere and nothing experienced right. Jon kept stating, “I want it to be this particular light show where you view the immigrant journey as an attractive, elegant ballet. ”

Chu: One day, we were traveling the New York Transit Museum and learned that we can rent cars from any era and move them on the track. How fun would that be, to move backward through time? So then we started looking at subway stations. They all sucked.

Brooks: One of the MTA people said, “There’s this one homeless station way out in Brooklyn that ‘Joker’ used. ” It’s three stories subterranean with no elevator. It required five days to rig our lighting and we only got one day to movie there, but everyone was up for the challenge.

Lacamoire: We had to change the way the song begins. Onstage, Olga sang it inside a chest voice almost like a cry, “Calor! Calor! Calor!, ” while the band plays these strong chords.


Quiara Alegría Hudes (screenwriter): Jon was like, “I can’t start a song in a film with an old woman belting at the top of her lungs. That worked on stage, but onscreen it’d be like, ‘Lady, what is wrong with you? ’” So we made it smaller, like she’s trying to catch her breath on this super hot day time. The movie is a love letter to Washington Heights, but when you’re older, New York can be a tough city to live in.

As shafts of light peek through, a woman is at the center of a group of dancers

The sequence has sixty dancers helping to tell Abuela Claudia’s (Olga Merediz) story.

(Macall Polay / Warner Bros. )

Mitchell Travers (costume designer): Olga’s physicality is incredible, because she’s this gorgeous woman just who, when she transforms into Abuela, carries her bodyweight to one side of her body a bit more, slows the girl gait and does a slight limp. I didn’t want exactly what she was wearing within this sequence to take away from all the work she was doing. We all found one with a rectangular shape that was also lively enough to be interesting at the center of a frame.

We aged this down so it’d think that she’s had it for over 20 years, as if it had been mended in a couple of places and washed in the sink from the laundromat over and over. And if you look really closely, you will see she wears a watch, which I imagined as owned by her mother, and a small bracelet a child in the community experienced made for her. I wanted that pairing of the people who elevated her and the people the lady was raising.

Miranda: When I was writing the section in Cuba, I called a family friend following that and asked, “What may be the Washington Heights equivalent associated with Havana? Like, what is the migrant working-class neighborhood there that she and her mother would be from? ” All the details from that phone discussion are in the song.

Lacamoire: We wanted to goodness the Cuban sound, and we have instruments like the 3 guitar. The piano performs a montuno; the bass sounds plays a tumbao tempo. For the movie, we added three more horns than we had on Broadway. The actual magic is the strings, which we never got to have got on Broadway and make things sound cinematic in the best possible way.

Williams: For Cuba, I wanted to blend Afro movements with contemporary plus salsa and mambo so that it felt as if you were carried. Like you can feel the power and heat, but also the community. You get this interconnectedness, as if they were all relatives.

Travers: Jon wanted the particular dancers to look like reminiscences, so we made costumes that were just simple enough so that it will remind you of that time in your daily life. Just the shapes of caps and silhouettes of the time periods. And we hid everyone’s tresses so no specific functions stood out, and just kept it about the movement.

Brooks: The MTA allows you to use their cars but you cannot touch the lighting. But each car shows a different story, so we needed things to dim on and off since she exited a car, like a receding memory where things are in focus with regard to only a moment. And we specifically wanted warm yellow lighting for Cuba and cold blue light for The united states. The gaffer had an excellent idea to create boxes that held battery-operated LED lights that hid perfectly within the cars so we could get the particular cues we wanted.


Williams: In Ny, you can almost hear the particular noise of all the rushing. It’s all about individuals scurrying about as if they had this tunnel vision of their own specific path.

Scott: There was a place where we were going to have got dancers contorting inside phone booths to show how filled New York was, but we couldn’t get the permits to get them down there, so we utilized suitcases.

Brooks: I’m not a crier. I did not cry at my wedding, I actually didn’t cry when our child was born. But the first time I saw Olga get tossed down into the subway chair with people pounding on the windows, I just burst into tears to the point where I was trembling.

Merediz: All those dancers were amazing within the depths of the subway, whenever it’s 100 degrees outside and a very thin o2 level down there. It was like going into the bowels associated with hell!

A group of people laugh and hug

Abuela Claudia (Olga Merediz, center) protects her community, played simply by Daphne Ruben-Vega, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Barrera, Gregory Diaz IV, Dascha Polanco plus Jimmy Smits.

(Warner Bros. )