When it comes to the film adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway sensation In the Heights, it looks like it won’t be long now.
Hours before this year’s Oscars, it was announced that Mr. Beyoncé himself was signing on as a producer for this long-gestating project. He’s joining a team that already includes the prolific Harvey Weinstein and theatre producer Scott Sanders. Also on board is Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Algería Hudes, who will adapt her original libretto for the screen.
As you can see, they’ve done everything right up to this point. So, now seems like the perfect time to make my well-informed yet possibly unrealistic casting suggestions for this Washington Heights-set musical dramedy. Whether my ideas make you say “No pare, sigue, sigue” or “No me diga”, let me know what you think and list your dream casts as well!
Javier Muñoz as Usnavi
Behind every great Lin-Manuel Miranda, there is a great Javier Muñoz. UNTIL NOW! Muñoz was the first performer to assume the roles of Usnavi AND Alexander Hamilton after Miranda left those productions. And, since Lin seems reluctant to reprise his performance on the big screen, who better to step in to run the bodega than Javi? Reports of his fame are certainly not great exaggerated. He’s sexy. He’s gay. He’s a cancer survivor and a dedicated HIV/AIDS advocate, having lived with HIV since 2002. He may be a little older than LMM, but this is my dream cast and I’ll buck ageist casting practices if I want to.
Rita Moreno as Abuela Claudia
Do I really need to convince you that this is a good idea? To say that Moreno is a legend is a gross understatement. She’s an EGOT winner, a Kennedy Center honoree, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Best of all, she’s sharing her brilliance with a whole new generation on Netflix’s absolutely delightful reboot of One Day at a Time. Her astonishing legacy is a true testament to the values of paciencia y fe.
Gabrielle Ruiz as Vanessa
During my extensive research for this article, I discovered that this Crazy Ex-Girlfriend villainess once played Carla in the Broadway cast of Heights. Who knew?! Ruiz undoubtedly has the necessary amounts of heart, sass, and legs that helped Karen Olivo shine in the role originally. Sadly, she hasn’t had many breakout musical moments on CXG to display the platinum pipes necessary to nail Vanessa’s epic “96,000” solo. But, because she’s also been featured in If/Then, Evita, and A Chorus Line, I have faith.
Ana Villafañe as Nina Rosario
Villafañe has publicly stated that this is one of her ultimate dream roles. And who am I to deny this rising star her dreams? After all, she’s been conga-ing her face off eight times a week for over a year now in the Gloria Estefan bio-musical On Your Feet!. I think she’s earned this.
Joshua Henry as Benny
Just look. And listen. Since most of us won’t get to see him tour the country as Burr in Hamilton, this role as the dreamy and horse-hung taxi dispatcher Benny will have to do. (P.S. He made his Broadway debut in the Heights ensemble. Wouldn’t this casting make for the most poetic full circle moment?)
Rico Rodriguez as Sonny
This Modern Family star has grown a ton since we first met him on the show in 2009. Luckily, he’s still got lots of adorableness left to play wise-cracking goofballs like Sonny.
Andrea Navedo & Becky G as Daniela & Carla
One plays TV’s coolest grandmother on Jane The Virgin. One is the new Yellow Power Ranger. They’re both gorgeous, super talented, bad ass Latina women. That really sucks for the idiots still clinging to the foolish notion that people like these ladies and stories like In The Heights don’t deserve to be seen or heard as widely as their white, male counterparts. Carla and Daniela are huge sources of comic relief in the show, but, with these two stars tackling the parts, they’ll be that and so much more.
Ricardo Chavira & Sara Ramirez as Kevin & Camila Rosario
I’d offer up my first born to get Tony-winner Sara Ramirez singing on a TV screen or Broadway stage again. Camila’s solo “Enough” is definitely not enough for someone with Ramirez’s remarkable voice to sink her teeth into. I’m praying that LMM will gift her with one of what I’m sure will be multiple original songs written for the movie as a part of his next bid for dat EGOT. The devastatingly handsome and gifted actor Ricardo Chavira is EVERYWHERE nowadays. I don’t know if he sings, but Kevin’s solo “Inútil” could easily be cut to make room for those aforementioned Oscar bait tunes.
Jaime Camil as Piragua Guy
His rampant narcissism and penchant for lavender accessories makes the world LOL every week on Jane The Virgin. Recently, he also showed off his theatre chops playing Billy Flynn in Chicago on Broadway. Maybe he and his Jane co-star Andrea Navedo can be a happy couple here since that show seems determined to crush that dream of mine.
Blue Ivy Carter in an incredible cameo
There are soooo many perks to being Beyoncé’s daughter. Now, there’s finally one perk to being Jay-Z’s daughter—a small but instantly iconic role in this film. Can Benny have a little sister or cousin in the neighborhood? Can we completely reimagine the character of Graffiti Pete for the five year old queen-in-the-making? Look at the the amazing range of emotions she’s displaying in just these three photos. She’s a natural born actress. Somebody call her agent immediately.