When the Nyack College cast of the “In the Heights” took their final bow last weekend, an Anne Frank quote rang true: “We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”
The scenario that plays out in the fictitious New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights reflects life in an urban Latino community. Truth be told, what transpires over the course of three days on that single block could take place in any of the nearly 50 global neighborhoods like Guatemala, Colombia, South Korea, Haiti, the Philippines, Germany or Burkina Faso, that Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary students call home.
How many dads feel certain guys are not good enough for their daughters? How many grandmothers take kids into their hearts and homes who are not blood relatives? How many parents live their dreams through their children? How many young people labeled “at risk” find a voice for their talent without using words? How many hopes have been dashed because of a deficit in resources—financial or human?
What we saw on the American Theatre of Actors stage were very familiar realities. A student working multiple jobs in order to stay in school despite scholarship money, parents struggling to supplement the cost of a child’s education or people staying focused when a loved one passes away—these are quite relevant issues in the campus community. At Nyack and “In the Heights,” a sense of community creates an environment where hopes and dream thrive.
Despite our place of origin, it’s highly likely we’ve met Usnavi, Nina, Kevin, Camila, Benny, Vanessa, Sonny, Abuela Claudia, Daniela, Carla, Graffiti Pete or Piragüero at some point in our lives. One way or another, these characters resonated with us. Far beyond the tremendous entertainment value of this production was a vehicle that reminded us to celebrate both the ways we are “different and yet the same.”
Bravo to the cast, production staff and orchestra!