Washington Township High School presents “In the Heights”

WTHS brings award-winning production to the stage as spring musical from March 9–11.

The cast of the WTHS spring production, “In the Heights” prepare for the upcoming show, debuting on March 9.

Washington Township High School’s Way Off Broadway Players are prepared to present what they expect to be “a show you don’t want to miss,” with their spring production, “In the Heights.”

The musical, with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegria Hudes, explores a variety of characters living in the neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City. The story is set during a three-day power outage when the roles experience “what it means to be home.”

Directed by Washington Township High School teacher Abby Molotsky and choreographed by Nicole Corigliano, the show will display a lot of energy with the music incorporating rap styles, and dance moves that include hip-hop and Latin. Also lending support is Vocal Director Joe Zachowski and Music Director Casey Corigliano.

“When Abby said she wanted to do the show, I panicked a little bit. I said, ‘I don’t know, this has a lot of stuff I’m not used to, like hip-hop and such,’ so I did a lot of research,” Nicole Corigliano said. “I brought a friend of mine in whose specialty is hip-hop. She’s also a trick specialist for cheerleading, so we do some lifts. I’m so amazed by the talent and dedication of the kids. We’re throwing a lot at them, and they are rising to the challenge.”

The lead character Usnavi, played by senior Dan McGee, is a bodega owner who dreams of leaving Washington Heights to return to the Dominican Republic. Vanessa, played by senior Nicole Bosurgi, is Usnavi’s love interest who works at a nearby salon. Senior Nadia Stracciolini plays the part of Daniella, the salon owner who is confident, boisterous and loves to gossip.

Nina Rosario is the only one who makes it out of Washington Heights by attending Stanford University, but returns home with disappointing news for her family, unsure if she’s going to go back to school. Played by sophomore Alexa Liss, Nina is the typical “good girl” who finds herself falling for Benny, a boy who was taken in by the Rosario family and works for their family car service shop.

“A lot of people are putting in a lot of hard work, and it’s going to pay off,” junior Marcos Santos, playing Benny, said. “I’m excited for people to see all of the work we’ve put into this. I really believe it’s going to be a good show, and people are really going to like it.”

“A lot of people don’t know this show, and I know after I watched a great production of it I was like, ‘wow, this is exciting,’” Liss said. “I want to see what everyone thinks of what we did, and if they like it.”

The students have rehearsed six days a week for nine weeks in preparation for the musical.

“I can’t wait to show off all of our hard work,” Bosurgi said. “Even my mom doesn’t realize how much work we put into it, and I’m proud of it.”

Since January, Set Designer Mike Repasy, Master Builders Erice Fernee and Shawn Horn, and other production team members have built a set that includes four two-story buildings, featuring functioning garage doors, a salon, a bodega and more.

“I look forward to being able to share what we worked so hard on for the past couple months with everyone we care about,” senior Kyle Lucero, playing the part of Nina Rosario’s father, Kevin, said.

“They’re amazing; I could not be any more thrilled at what has transpired. From the props kids to the highest lead, they are a-plus caliber kids. They’re going to be amazing,” Molotsky said.

Senior Elena Levan had the opportunity this year to take a position off the stage as student assistant director. Typically performing with her peers, Levan has instead worked with Molotsky on prop lists, stage blocking and production.

“I’m excited to see the whole show together. This is a completely different show than we’ve ever done here,” Levan said. “When she (Molotsky) told people this was the show she was going to do, everybody thought she was crazy, myself included. But it’s happening. I can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve been working on, and to be able to say we did it; nobody thought we would, but we did.”

The cast also shared hidden traditions that take place during the performances, encouraging audience members to try to notice them as they happen. Unable to disclose specific details, the students hinted the rituals involve a fruit and the mentioning of an animal during the show.

Performances will be taking place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 9 and Friday, March 10. On Saturday, March 11 the show will begin at 3 p.m. Tickets to attend are $10 and can be purchased by contacting Business Manager Shannon Molloy at smolloy@wtps.org.