EDINBURGH University Footlights celebrate their silver jubilee this week, with the Scottish premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights, at the Church Hill Theatre, Morningside.
Winner of the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical, In the Heights has never before been staged in the UK, reveals Footlights’ producer Cailean Morison.
“This year being our 25th anniversary, we wanted to choose a show that was new, exciting and innovative. With a lot of new faces joining the society we needed something that was a bit different, so when we were given the opportunity to produce a Scottish premiere of In The Heights, we jumped at the chance,” he says.
“Although we had doubts about turning the Churchill into the Barrio, we thought that if anyone was up to the challenge we were. Nine months on and we are convinced that we couldn’t have made a better decision.”
Set over three days, in the largely Dominican-American neighbourhood of Washington Heights (the Barrio) in New York City, a place where life is tough, expectations are low and tradition is important.
Despite this, the community spirit is a big part of life and it holds people together. Aspirations of a better future beyond the barrio are high but people are faced with the struggle of deciding what traditions to keep and which traditions to leave behind.
Morison adds, “Since being given the job of producer in May of last year, I have fallen in love with so many aspects of the show but one of the main challenges has been trying to make the stage look like it could be a part of a neighbourhood of New York.
“Our team has worked very hard to achieve this and I’m delighted with the final outcome.”
Taking Broadway by storm when it opened there in 2008 , the score is a fusion of hip-hop, rap and salsa music.
“The numbers are infectious and the mixture of dance styles blend with the music seamlessly,” enthuses Morison.
“And the lighting and sound are like nothing I have ever seen from a student production before. We have had an incredible few months preparing for this moment and we can only hope audiences will enjoy it as much as we have creating it.”
In The Heights, Church Hill Theatre, Morningside Road, tonight-Saturday, 7.30pm, £12.50, www.intheheights.co.uk