Kenny Ortega Will Spend Some Time Grooving 'In the Heights'
by Ethan Anderton
December 15, 2009
Back in October director and choreographer Kenny Ortega vacated the director's chair for Paramount's musical revamp of Footloose. But it seems like that'll hardly be a disappointment for Ortega who has filled the open spot on his schedule with a project he considers a dream job. Variety reports Ortega has signed on to direct In the Heights, an adaptation of the acclaimed musical about a bodega owner who inherits his grandfather's lottery winnings and plots his retirement to a Dominican Republic beach. As he bids farewell to his customers on the block in New York, he becomes conflicted about leaving behind his surrogate family.
Ortega couldn't be happier that executives at Universal Pictures took his serious passion for the project into consideration. He told Variety:
"I told the executives at Universal that they were not going to find a guy who has more of a life connection to that story. I've seen the show six times on Broadway since it opened, several times when Lin [Manuel Miranda] played the lead role. He blew me away with his presence and charisma."
Tony-wining composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda not only wrote the musical but also starred in the lead role for two years on Broadway and will be reprising his role for the adaptation. Also making the jump from Broadway to Hollywood will be book writer for In the Heights, Quiara Alegria Hudes, who is attached to write the screenplay as well. As a musical fan, it should be interesting to see Ortega tackle a non-Disney musical (he's also responsible for the High School Musical series as well as The Newsies) especially because he identifies with the mix of community and music so passionately. It's only when a director has such a huge heartfelt investment in a project that magic can happen. We'll be waiting to hear more on this in the future.