It’s February 2008 and the Richard Rodgers Theatre has a palpable excitement in the air. Not since Rent opened in 1996 had there been a musical that hit so close to home for New York audiences. A young Puerto Rican songwriter and lyricist, Lin-Manuel Miranda, was about to change the face of Broadway; In the Heights had arrived.
Miranda and In the Heights paved the way for a new type of Broadway musical. By blending in elements of hip-hop and rap, beautifully intertwined wordplay and rhyme schemes, and a lively realism, ITH won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Lin-Manuel’s songwriting talents led to his involvement in the revival of West Side Story in 2009 and Bring It On in 2011, with both plays bringing a level of ethnic authenticity to the stage that had seemingly been lacking in musical theater.
At age 34, Lin-Manuel Miranda has a long, bright future ahead of him, and with the landscape of Broadway a blank canvas, it will be interesting to see what he creates.