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Porchlight’s ‘In the Heights’ announces casting

Written by
Kris Vire

We only know part of the cast for the upcoming Chicago production of Hamilton, but we now know everyone who will appear in Porchlight Music Theatre’s concurrent production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s previous Tony winner, In the Heights.

The first Equity production of the 2008 musical in Chicago proper (west suburban Aurora’s Paramount Theatre staged it in 2013), director Brenda Didier’s production was cast entirely from the Chicago area, following what Porchlight artistic director Michael Weber describes as “an exhaustive audition process seeing hundreds of the Chicago-area’s diverse established and new music theater talent, and even reaching out to our city’s vast hip-hop dance community.” All but one of the 19-member cast will be making their Porchlight debut.

Jack DeCesare, a 2015 BFA graduate of the Theatre School at DePaul, will star as Washington Heights bodega owner Usnavi. Other leading roles include Lucia Godinez (current Northwestern undergrad, and daughter of Chicago actor-director Henry Godinez) as Nina; Stephen Allen as Benny; Michelle Lauto as Vanessa; Frankie Leo Bennett as Sonny; Missy Aguilar as Daniela; Leah Davis as Carla; Jordan DeBose as Kevin Rosario; Keely Vasquez as Camila Rosario; Stan DeCwikel, Jr. as El Piraguero; Kristopher Knighton as Graffiti Pete; and Isabel Quintero as Abuela Claudia. Completing the ensemble are Anthony Apodaca, Nicole Lambert, Cisco Lopez, Yando Lopez, Elena Romanowski, Travis Austin Wright and Demi Zaino.

Didier will co-choreograph with Chris Carter. Diana Lawrence is music director; also on the creative team are Gregory Pinsoneault, scenic design; Kate Setzer Kamphausen, costume design; Denise Karczewski, lighting design, Robert Hornbostel, sound design; and Mealah Heidenreich, properties design. In the Heights won four 2008 Tony Awards including best musical and best score, and ran for nearly three years on Broadway. Porchlight’s production runs September 9–October 16 at Stage 773, overlapping with the first performances of Hamilton at the PrivateBank Theatre, which begin September 27. Perhaps Miranda will stop by to check out the Chicago cast.

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