For a weekend in late April, Boston Prep students, faculty, families, and supporters transported from Boston to the streets of Washington Heights for Boston Prep's first ever school musical. Co-directed by middle school ELA teacher Kevin Black and middle school support services teacher Rachel Adams, In the Heights enabled nearly twenty students, almost all middle schoolers, to explore their passion for music, dance, and theater. A student stage crew put their artistic, technical, and organizational skills to work to produce scenic backdrops and manage flow behind the stage.
In the Heights, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and based on a book by Quiara Alegria Hudes, is a powerful musical set in the Hispanic-American neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City. A young store owner, Usnavi, observes the joys and heartache of his largely immigrant neighborhood as his friends and neighbors work to realize the "American Dream". Central character Nina, viewed as "the one who made it out," battles with how to tell her parents she has dropped out of Stanford University. Her parents, willing to give anything for Nina, debate about whether to sell the family business to help support her education. Themes of hope, the importance family and community relationships, and the struggles of life as an immigrant are prominent throughout the musical.
The power of the In the Heights story line carried through to the student experience. Co-Director Rachel Adams reflected on the tremendous relationships and passion developed through the production. "Many of our students compared being in the cast to being in a family. They spent the better part of this school year preparing to tell a story for an audience. After our closing performance, students walked away crying because they wouldn’t be able to tell this story again. We now have students emerging from the woodwork with questions about what show we will do next year. I see this becoming a long-standing Boston Prep tradition. Now that our students know they can do it, they have every intention of doing it again."
Given what they were able to accomplish in their first musical, we cannot wait to see the magic future musicals will bring to the Boston Prep stage!