Photo Courtesy of Allied Live
Starting Nov. 24 at the Ohio Theatre, students can see the hit Broadway musical, “In the Heights,” without needing to go through the trouble and expense of flying to New York’s Broadway district.
“In the Heights” is a musical that centers around a New York City Latino community in the Washington Heights neighborhood. Its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, drew on his own life experiences to create the story of the musical and the characters on stage, according to the show’s Web site.
However, Miranda is not the only one who sees his family and experiences come to life on stage. Natalie Caruncho, ensemble member and understudy for the characters Nina, Vanessa and Carla, sees herself and her family in the story.
“Oh my God, this is my family! That’s my abuela!” Caruncho said after her first time viewing the musical.
Caruncho was so drawn to the story and the characters in the musical that every time her family members came to visit her, she would take them to see it.
“[The musical has] so much heart and passion,” Caruncho said. She sees herself in each part she plays.
Caruncho hopes people leaving the musical will “get a sense of the big picture; leave the theater walking a bit taller and smiling,” Caruncho said.
Although Caruncho is an understudy for three main characters, she did not always know that her path would lead her to an acting career. She began as a dancer, practicing in her mother’s dance studio. Caruncho said, “[I was] dancing before I could walk.”
In high school, Caruncho focused on dance until she decided to try an acting class. Her high school acting teacher saw Caruncho’s talent and told her she had the potential to have a career in acting as well as dancing.
Caruncho pursued a bachelor’s degree in acting at Florida State University and also acted in plays for various local companies, such as Tampa Performing Arts, according to her Web site.
After graduating from FSU in 2008, she auditioned for an open call in Miami. That audition was for “In the Heights.”
For Caruncho, this is her first experience participating in a musical of such magnitude. “In the Heights” is a 2008 Grammy winner for Best Musical Show Album and a four-time Tony Award recipient. The musical has been on the Broadway scene since 2008.
The musical has embarked on its first national tour and will stop at the Ohio Theatre Nov. 24 through Nov. 29. Show times are 8 p.m. Nov. 24 through Nov. 27, 2 and 8 p.m Nov. 28, and 1. and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29.
For more information on “In the Heights,” visit the musical’s Web site at intheheightsmusical.com. For more information about Caruncho, visit her Web site at nataliecaruncho.com.