Rebecca Bernard
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Where Are the Cars of ‘In The Heights’?

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Photo: Kenny Loule via Flickr

Like the rest of the theater nerds in America, I woke up this morning and started to obsessively check online for the first full trailer of In The Heights. This film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes’s Tony Award-winning musical is arguably one of the most anticipated releases of summer 2020. While I teared up watching the trailer and I’m now listening to the Broadway soundtrack on repeat for the rest of the day, I have one big question for director Jon M. Chu.

THIS is the movie musical we’ve been waiting for. Sorry, Cats!

Where are the cars?

If the story sticks close to its on-stage inspiration, the Rosario family owns a taxi cab service. Due to the limitations of a Broadway musical (and the static set of In The Heights), the audience never sees any of its cars. Instead, we see Benny working the dispatch line and hear the drivers honk their horns joyously when Nina Rosario comes on the radio after returning from college. Curiously, the Rosario fleet is missing from our first look at the movie version, which has none of those restrictions.

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Let’s be real, I’m mostly upset because I was looking forward to squinting at paused trailer frames to determine what kind of vehicles the film used as cabs. I couldn’t decide if they would go with the Taxi of Tomorrow for realism or a more classic option that was on the street in 2005, when the musical had its first performance.

The trailer isn’t completely without cars considering that the George Washington Bridge looms in the background of many wide shots. One of the looks we get at Nina in the preview, played by Leslie Grace, shows her gazing towards the iconic structure while the traffic of what could be the Henry Hudson Parkway runs below. Beyond that, there is plenty of choreography in the street without any cars trying to squeak between the dancers in their perpetual Big Apple rush.

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You can bet your Playbill collection* that I’ll be here through the next trailers and early looks at In The Heights to find out what happened to Washington Heights’s vehicular residents. No, I’m not looking for an excuse to refresh entertainment coverage in the office, why do you ask?

*I’m not the only one with one of those, am I?