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You can sing and dance ‘In the Heights’ on Friday

Dan Webster

Above: Anthony Ramos stars in "In the Heights," which opens on Friday. (Photo/Warner Bros.)

Few Broadway musicals have had the success to match that of “Hamilton.” Besides eight Drama Desk Awards, including for Outstanding Musical, the show – conceived and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda – added 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and even ended up winning a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

 It’s not as if Miranda appeared out of nowhere. In 2008, his musical “In the Heights” – which he had first developed while still attending college – opened on Broadway and ended up winning four Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.

So now we have the movie version of “In the Heights,” Miranda’s look at life as experienced by the various Dominican character living in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. Directed by Jon M. Chu, co-written by Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes, and starring Anthony Ramos, Benny Hawkins, Leslie Grace and others – including Miranda as Piraguero, the Paragua Guy – it opens in mainstream theaters on Friday.

And the critics are ecstatic.

The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday says this: “To quote ‘In the Heights’ itself, the streets are made of music in the first genuinely cheerful, splashy, exuberantly life-affirming movie of the summer.”

Katie Walsh of Tribune News Service says, “A brash, culturally specific and celebratory film that is a whole lotta musical.. It's sincere, deeply felt and completely, refreshingly unabashed about it.”

And Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle says, “Art is either alive or dead, and this movie is emphatically and exuberantly living, energized by what can only truly be described as love.”

Also expected to open is the kids’ film “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway,” which was directed by Peter Gluck, adapted by Gluck and others from the Beatrix Potter books and featuring the voices of James Corden, Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson and David Oyelowo.

Variety’s Courtney Howard says, “It's an astute, entertaining, light-hearted mix of slapstick and self-reflexive humor commingling with enlightened, sharp sentiments about individualism and commercialism.”

I’ll update as the week progresses.

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