Following his blockbuster success with the Michael Jackson concert film This Is It, Kenny Ortega is returning to the musical genre for Universal's adaptation of In the Heights. The Tony Award-winning show is reportedly a favorite of the choreographer-turned-director, who is currently best known as the helmer of the three High School Musical films. According to Variety, Ortega pitched himself to the studio by admitting it's a dream gig and now says the assignment is one of the greatest things to happen in his life.

The Broadway musical is about a bodega owner in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan who inherits his grandfather's lottery winnings and plans on retiring in the Dominican Republic. Through the course of the three-day-long plot, he says goodbye to his regular customers who he begins to realize are like his family. Ortega, who is half Spanish, especially relates to the community aspect of the story and the Latin musics featured in the show, which he says he's seen six times.
Aside from the involvement of Ortega, In the Heights will mostly be a transplant of creatives from the original production. Quiara Alegria Hudes, writer of the musical's book, is adapting for the screen, while songwriter and star Lin-Manuel Miranda (Sex and the City) will reprise his role as the bodega owner. The film will also retain the show's producers as executive producers with Meryl Poster (Chicago) directly overseeing production.

Though I haven't seen the Broadway version, I can say this sounds like a more appealing project than the Footloose remake Ortega was previously attached to before bailing due to creative differences. It may not attract the droves Ortega's used to, given that it's neither a teeny bopper sensation nor the final appearance of a late superstar, but Universal is the studio that hit big with Mamma Mia! (which it's making a sequel to), so maybe there will end up being a big audience for this as well.
categories Cinematical