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'In The Heights' may be set in Washington Heights, but its origins are deeply rooted in Connecticut

The film, inspired by the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, has strong connections to our state.

HARTFORD, Conn. — It’s being called the “best movie of 2021” - but before it reached the silver screen, “In The Heights” got its start here in Connecticut.

The film, directed by Jon M. Chu, is based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name written and created by actor and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“In The Heights” explores the lives of the people living in New York City's Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights. Characters from all walks of life celebrate their individual and unique Latino cultures while seeking out goals in their individual lives.

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Miranda graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown in 2002. During his sophomore year at Wesleyan, Miranda wrote the first incarnation of “In The Heights” and applied to put up a new show at the school’s student-run theater.

Credit: AP
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows director John Chu, left, and Lin-Manuel Miranda on the set of "In the Heights." (Macall Polay/Warner Bros. via AP)

Miranda was given a chance to perform his musical during a weekend in April 1999.

He continued crafting the show, injecting Latino energy and excitement into the show, writing the freestyle raps to be performed by the characters, and envisioning the dance numbers that would inspire character development and growth throughout the musical.

Years after graduating from Wesleyan, and before the musical got its start on Broadway, Miranda brought “In The Heights” to the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford as part of the National Music Theater Conference in 2005.

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The musical opened off-Broadway in 2007 before premiering at the Richard Rogers Theatre in 2008.

“In The Heights” won several Tony Awards in its first year on Broadway, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. The musical also won a Grammy Award in 2008 for Best Musical Show Album.

Credit: AP
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Anthony Ramos in a scene from "In the Heights." (Warner Bros. via AP)

Miranda would later go on to achieve more notoriety and attention as the creator of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” which won numerous Tony Awards, including Best Musical. “Hamilton” also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2016.

“In The Heights” opens in movie theaters nationwide Thursday, and is also available for streaming on HBO Max.

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