Broadway Box Office
Kyle Beltran in In the Heights
Set in the vibrant Dominican Republic-flavored neighborhood of Washington Heights in upper Manhattan, In the Heights, winner of four Tony Awards and a Grammy, had us at hola when it opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in March of 2008. But now that talented young Westchester native Kyle Beltran, 24, has stepped into the lead role of bodega owner Usnavi, one originated by the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, we’re seriously psyched about it all over again. Here we talk to Beltran about Westchester, the Great White Way, and making his Broadway debut.
How would you describe In the Heights? It’s a celebratory love letter to northern Manhattan—a story about how important family is and how important it is to have a place to call home—that’s set against an explosion and fusion of many different kinds of music.
Compare and contrast: Westchester and Washington Heights. What the show celebrates is family and community and the importance of celebrating where you come from and the magic of everyday things like home cooking. These things are very universal and they were all part of my childhood in Westchester.
How does the show’s story compare to your own? I am half Puerto Rican. My dad was raised in the projects of the south Bronx. He was the first in his family to go to college—like the character Nina in the show.
How are you like the character you play? We both know what it’s like to have a lot of pressure at a young age and to lose a parent at a young age—I lost my mom when I was seventeen. And we both have a lot of heart and a unique balance of geek and cool.
How does the reality of starring on Broadway compare to your fantasies? It is a lot of hard work and requires such unbelievable discipline, energy, and stamina. They don’t tell you how hard it is when you’re dreaming.
Do you watch Glee? I do, religiously. I am a Gleek.