Director's Note for In the Heights
picture of Gary LaRon Stanford Jr., Director Dear Friends of WVLO,

Very frequently we are offered a look at the streets of New York put to musical theater. However, it's usually in the form of year 1961 with two rival gangs running the streets (West Side Story). The staff is already working rigorously to portray an up-to-date look at the Latin-American way of life in Washington Heights. In The Heights is an aggressive compilation of the societal pressures and implications of being a Latin citizen living in the US/New York.

This is the story of real life urban culture and the many nuances to the survival and perseverance of a proud people. This story shows that sometimes you are one bad break away from maybe losing your way in life, or a little extra effort away from being very happy and successful in life. Sometimes patience is an overwhelming virtue that gets the best of us as we wait for our big break and we end up never quite getting where we want to go. Sometimes the social pressures our families take on and pass to our children are overwhelming and paralyzing. Life does show us that one thing is always constant however. We can pick up our broken pieces, lick our wounds, stand up and fight another day as long as we are breathing. In other words, hope remains even when we can't find it easily.

Lin Manuel helped paint us a broad stroke of artistry with this piece that we are working rigorously to reproduce as honorably as possible. We have assembled in epic staff of experience musicians, choreographers, designers and artistic minds. More importantly, we have assembled a team of very kind, caring and loving individuals, a predominant philosophy that Lin brought to his productions and professional broadway cast. My hope is to carry on that legacy established to our staff meetings, auditions, rehearsals and performances. My dream is that all of our audiences in the fall can share in the open celebration of shared love and kindness.

The significance of bringing such a strong cultural piece such as In The Heights to a community theater is far more significant than many smaller companies conceptualize. The amount of talented performers of color in the Bay Area is quite substantial and they are willing to travel far and wide to earn opportunities to be represented on stage. With folks such as these comes many friends, families, and other actors from outside the region of the theater company to come support and take part. A strong enough cast/show also brings positive media to company in terms of formally written show reviews, rabid word of mouth and even the attention of Theater Bay Area constituents and awards. Attracting people of color to your theater company also broadens, enhances and solidifies the sense at community and family that serves as the backbone to a company's continued success.

So with that I leave you this: I truly hope you all continue to support the arts. We are in a difficult time in history where hate and bigotry fight for its survival. We are also in a time where we are making great strides in society, technology and even the arts! Our diversity and acceptance of each other is opportunity to overcome what holds us back as a people. Thank you all for being on the productive side of history as we bring a Latin show to the entire Saratoga community and Saratoga Theater for the first time. See you in the fall where we can all celebrate together!!


Sincerely,
Gary LaRon Stanford Jr., Director for In the Heights