Students take a step into NYC

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For the first time, the Broadway musical “In the Heights” will debut on a high school stage. And luckily for the Westminster community, it’s happening in their backyard.

The Westminster High School CenterStage Theatre Company is presenting the production of “In the Heights” March 14-16.

“In the Heights” takes place over the course of three days in the New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights. It focuses on a community of people struggling to live the American Dream, while dealing with the heat of New York City, debt, gentrification, poverty and loss that threatens their dreams. But amidst these struggles, the characters survive the tough times with the help of family, music, home, dreams and dancing.

Theater director Andre Rodriguez is new to Westminster High School this year. He said he chose the musical because it’s the only musical that he knows of that represents the Latino culture in a positive light, with Latino people doing positive things. He said he’s never seen more energy and excitement from a cast in his career.

“This is the best cast I have ever worked with in my life,” Rodriguez said. “Not only are the students talented, they are really kind and hardworking and just genuinely hungry to be good.”

Erin Ramsey is the set director for “In the Heights.” She said it was a struggle at first to design the set because she had seen the musical a few times. She focused on creating a design that would display what the Washington Heights neighborhood truly looks like.

“The design was mine, but the students have built and painted most everything themselves, with some assistance,” she said. “We try to do, keep it as educational theater. They learn a lot about how hard it is to put up something that looks simple.”

Sophomore Faith Angel is playing the role of Nina Rosario. When talking about the musical, her face lights up with excitement. She said this is the best production she’s been a part of, especially because playing Nina Rosario is her dream role. She said hopes people come out to experience the positive journey the characters take in “In the Heights.”

“It a huge honor to follow up with a performance of Nina Rosario, because she is one of my highest inspirations, “Angel said. “This is a feel-good musical. At the beginning everyone is struggling to find their home and by the end, everyone feel is very much at home.”

“In the Heights” is running March 14-16 at Westminster High School, 6933 Raleigh St. The show begins at 7 p.m. and tickets are $8 for general admission and $10 for reserved seats. To order tickets, call 720-542-5415.

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