December 10, 2023

‘In the Heights’ opening at Oregon Cabaret Theatre

Kristopher Stanley Ward as Benny and Alysia Beltran as Nina. Steve Sutfin photo
April 17, 2022

Lin-Manuel Miranda musical kicks off Thursday, runs through June 19

By Lee Juillerat for

Mention the name Lin-Manuel Miranda and most people associate him with the Broadway mega-smash “Hamilton.”

Michel Alejandro Castillo as Usnavi and Amanda Lopez as Vanessa. Steve Sutfin photo

But Miranda is also the person who created the music for “Encanto Moana” and for “In the Heights,” the 2008 Tony winner for best musical. Written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, “In the Heights” tells the story of the closely knit community in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights at the upper end of the borough of Manhattan.

Beginning Thursday, April 21, the musical will be featured on the stage of the Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland.

In the musical, Bodega owner Usnavi is dating Vanessa, who works in a beauty salon. He dreams of opening a bar in his home country, the Dominican Republic. Nina loves Benny, a shy young man who has worked for Nina’s parents for years, but her father opposes their union because he wants Nina to finish her college education at Stanford University. Nina doesn’t want her father to bankrupt himself paying for the expensive tuition, but her father is prepared to sell his car-service business.

Michel Alejandro Castillo makes his Cabaret debut as Usnavi, and is joined by several other Cabaret newcomers, including Kristopher Stanley Ward, Amanda Lopez, Jianzi Colo-Soto, Edlyn Gonzalez, Adriel Garcia, Natalie Mara, Josh Ditto, Corey Simmons and Cheyenne Omani. Cabaret veteran Alina Cenal returns as Abuela Claudia and is joined by two performers who previously worked at the Cabaret as understudies, Alysia Beltran and Ernesto Rosales.

The show’s director, Maria Torres O’Connor, brings her own level of expertise. O’Connor has starred as the “girl in red” in the Tony-nominated Broadway musical “Swing.” She also performed at the “Radio City Spring Extravaganza,” “The Skin of Our Teeth” and featured in the film “Dance with Me.” As a choreographer, her work can be seen in the Off-Broadway hit “The Donkey Show,” in the Enrigue Iglesias video “Ballamos,” in John Leguiszamo’s international Budweiser commercial, in Segram’s Latin Rock Show, and in “Four Guys Named Jose” in New York City. O’Connor has been nominated for the Off-Broadway Lucille Lortel Award for Best Choreographer for “Four Guys Named Jose.”

The “In the Heights” design team includes set designer José Diaz-Soto, lighting designer Christopher Wood, props designer James Paul Xavier, sound designer Kimberly Carbone, and costume designer Kristie Mattson. If it were a movie, “In the Heights” would be rated PG-13 for coarse language, adult situations and alcohol use.

Because of relaxed COVID-19 safety protocol, the Cabaret is resuming table sharing and seating the front row, no longer requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test and not requiring, but recommending, wearing masks. If COVID cases rise dramatically the Cabaret reserves the right to require masks and/or proof of vaccination or negative COVID test.

Following a preview on Thursday, April 21, “In the Heights” opens Friday, April 22, and runs through Sunday, June 19. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday matinees begin at 1 p.m. with evening performances at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday and select Wednesday nights.

Reservations are required for pre-show dinner or brunch. Appetizers, cocktails, beverages and desserts are available without reservations. Tickets are $43 for A level seating with limited $39 B level seating and $29 C level seating. The Cabaret offers a 15% ticket discount for groups of 12 or more for select ticket types and performances. $15 student rush tickets can be purchased 30 minutes before curtain with a valid student ID, subject to availability.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, call the Oregon Cabaret Theatre box office at 541-488-2902 or visit

Email freelance writer Lee Juillerat at

Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Email him at

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