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‘In the Heights’: Musical Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda Joins Film Version in Small Role

Kate Erbland

Powerhouse Lin-Manuel Miranda may not be returning to play the role he originated in his Broadway hit and Tony winner “In the Heights,” but he will be taking on a small role in director Jon M. Chu’s big screen treatment of the early aughts musical. On Friday, Miranda tweeted that he will be taking on the part of Piragüero, also known as “Piragua Guy,” in the upcoming film version of his first musical hit.

Piragüero is the owner of a piragua (a Puerto Rican shaved ice dessert) stand, and is trying to literally “scrap by” even when faced by the encroachment of heavy-hitter ice cream behemoth Mister Softee. When the show opened on Broadway in 2008, Miranda — who created the show and wrote its music and lyrics — played the lead role and narrator, Usnavi de la Vega, who will be played by Anthony Ramos in the film version.

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The New York City-set project was previously in the works at Universal, but the studio put it in turnaround in 2011, despite attaching director Kenny Ortega (with Miranda himself on deck to star). It eventually moved over to The Weinstein Company, but became one of many projects impacted by the slew of sexual misconduct and abuse allegations waged against former super-producer Harvey Weinstein.

In May of last year, Warner Bros. picked up the rights to the project. The film follows a bodega owner (Ramos’ role) in New York’s Washington Heights who, after gaining an inheritance, is conflicted about leaving his life behind and returning to the Dominican Republic.

Ramos will be joined in the Warner Bros. musical by Marc Anthony, Corey Hawkins, Gregory Diaz IV, Melissa Barerra, Leslie Grace, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, and Jimmy Smits. Original “Rent” star Daphne Rubin-Vega is also on deck to play salon owner (and neighborhood gossip) Daniela.

Chu, who recently enjoyed tremendous success with his smash hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” is directing the feature, which has been written by the musical’s book writer Quiara Alegría Hudes, who is making her big screen debut with the adaptation.

The film is slated to hit theaters on June 26, 2020.

Check out Miranda’s tweet below.


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