Playbill announced this week that High School Musical alumnus Corbin Bleu would play Usnavi in In the Heights from January through April next year. Some impassioned reactions to the casting on various musical theatre discussion forums around the Internet have caused some controversy, with some questioning rather vehemently the casting of an African American as a member of the Latino community represented in the cast.
The show’s creator (and original Usnavi) Lin-Manuel Miranda popped in at BroadwayWorld to weigh in on the comments, writing a rap-style approval of Bleu’s casting:
First of all, thank you for taking the time
to write a message in full sentences, much less make it rhyme.
You’d be amazed at all the horrid punctuation I see
e.g. “I-L-Y, ROTFL, OK G2G.”
Now as for Corbin Bleu, chalk it up to ambition.
The dude came in and straight SMASHED his audition.
But can he “hold the flow?” Well, I know the part, I did it.
We’d NEVER cast someone unless they proved that they could spit it.
When he came in the room, I ain’t think that he would get it.
He won us over, pa. You can tell the haters I said it.
Now THIS is sensitive, and I’m hesitant to begin again
But I’m a Puerto Rican-Mexican; I PLAYED Dominican.
And everyone’s from everywhere, we are reppin’ so many things
Andrea’s Venezuelan and Jewish, Karen’s like twenty things
So yes, I see your point, but ethnicity’s just a factor
They’ve gotta play the part: in the end, dude is an ACTOR.
Javi is amazing. Jon Rua is too.
Michael Balderrama makes the drama ring true.
They’re big footsteps; I wrote a really big shoe.
This one is Lin-approved: Mr. Corbin Bleu.
Bleu thanked Miranda publicly on December 10th via Twitter, also stating: “And I promise everyone that I will be working my ass off!” I’m certain Bleu will deliver on his promise; let’s all hope it translates into a stunning performance!
Purchases from Amazon.com
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
1. In the Heights Original Broadway Cast Recording CD.
2. In the Heights Original Broadway Cast Recording MP3s.
3. In the Heights Vocal Selections.