…now I’m in it.
That’s how Lin-Manuel Miranda began his farewell speech at the final Broadway performance of In The Heights. And I witnessed it.
Kim and I were seated in the second-to-last row of the mezzanine, standing and cheering and in awe that this was really the end. I fell in love with theater a few years before moving to NYC, but it wasn’t until I found this show that I knew what it felt like to really connect with a something so completely. While I’m a writer, I don’t know if I can fully express how I felt about this show in general and specifically, this last show. Obviously, this post is more for me than anything else, so forgive the single-mindedness.
Near the end of August 2008 Kim and I saw Heights for the first time, after weeks and weeks of losing the lottery. She was between jobs and I had just moved to the city and had no job yet. We got our front row, $26 tickets and were blown away.
The energy of this show is amazing. Maybe it’s because the show’s creator, lyricist and original star, Lin, was in the main role. He spent years putting this show together and performed on stage like he’d been doing the show his whole life. The finale is jaw-dropping. It’s a whole jumble of emotion, positive energy, hope and excitement.
This show is so many things I can’t describe. I haven’t gone back to count, but I’ve seen the show between 20 and 25 times. Most people consider that crazy. It probably is a little. Most of the times I saw the show it was from lottery seats, though. (See, not that crazy!) But this kind of obsession, addiction, is healthy in my mind. It let me escape into a theater world and come out feeling energized about life each time.
I identified with the character of Nina, who was struggling with failure and letting down her family. My real circumstances were much different than hers, but still, when she’d sing “Breathe” I completely connected with the fear of admitting failure and struggle of trying to become something you always said you would be. Underneath everything, the show is really about finding home, finding out who you are and finding happiness.
Highlights of the final show:
- Epic standing-o for Lin’s entrance
- Cheering for everyone’s entrance
- Shaun being adorable and hilarious and Lin mimicking him
- Doreen grabbing Tony and smooching him hard in the background during It Won’t Be Long Now (I think?)
- The audience call and response of “No Pare SIGUE SIGUE Did you see me? FREAKY FREAKIT!” Were was the memo on that one?
- Standing-O after 96,000
- Marcy knocking over the wine bottle on her exit and recovering
- Everyone bringing out their cell phones during Blackout
- Andrea doing silly moves in her “it’s called a broom” bit
- The subtle reminders in Carnival: “maybe tonight is our last night together”
- Lin so choked up during Albanza and Everything I Know
- The finale. Lin getting emotional and bringing the best finale performance ever
- Everyone cheering and standing before he hit the final note
- Lin’s on-the-spot curtain call speech:
This is an amazing show, and I feel so happy to have spent this last night in the theater with everyone else.
There are so many awesome memories I can run down that will mean nothing to most people, but make me happy nonetheless: when Lin forgot the wine and did crazy hand motions, when we awkwardly ran into Lin after winning lotto and were speechless, seeing just about every understudy in every role, being amazed by Corbin Bleu’s talents on stage and finding him kinda hot, not winning lotto the day before Seth actually went on as Usnavi, winning lotto the one chance we had to see Seth go on as Usnavi and practically dying from how perfect he was in the role, finding something new on stage every time…