In the Heights vs. Hamilton: A Broadway Dilemma

Ila Prabhuram

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Digging into diversity
September 30, 2021
In the Heights vs. Hamilton: A Broadway Dilemma

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” and “Hamilton.”

Lin Manuel-Miranda’s movie “In the Heights” was considered a sensation, receiving a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, a well-known site that rates numerous films. “In the Heights” is built around the ‘American Dream,’ and its unique lyrics set it apart from the others—some even say it is better than the iconic Hamilton. 

“[Miranda] somehow knows how to rhyme words together that shouldn’t rhyme and put them to a catchy melody that you want to sing all day long. Then, he proceeds to be a talented freestyle rapper and singer, dancer, and actor, sometimes all at the same time,” Ava Riney, junior, said. 

“In The Heights” is a portrayal of a hot summer in the Manhattan community of Washington Heights. The film centers on Usnavi, a shop owner with an ambitious dream of moving back to the Dominican Republic to reopen his father’s beachside bar. “Hamilton,” on the other hand, is a retelling of the United States’ origin story told through the perspective of Alexander Hamilton. The film has dramatic highs and lows, a romance scandal, blackmail, and death in a duel at the hands of the US vice-president Aaron Burr.  

“The past isn’t done with us. Ever, ever, ever,” Lin Manuel-Miranda, creator of both “Hamilton” and “In the Heights,” said. 

Both shows share a similar voice and style, and many of the cast members from “Hamilton” also appeared in “In the Heights.” The two double as hip-hop musicals and Broadway ballads. Being Miranda’s first-ever musical, “In the Heights” has a stronger sense of identity, as it incorporates more Latino-style music—which sets it apart more. Lin-Manuel Miranda is also of Latino heritage, enhancing the film’s cultural aspect.  

“The songs in “In the Heights” were extremely catchy, and I liked how each song had its own unique style and message while fitting in the overall theme of the movie,” Cooper Gilreath, sophomore, said.  

Overall, “In the Heights” is better than “Hamilton.” It feels like a party—dancers and bright colors fill the screen, and it displays the vibrance of the Latino-American community.